‘Cause this is not about what you’ve done, But what’s been done for you.

Yesterday morning I was handed a Bible study on John 21. I was so ready. Maybe because I already had my coffee. Maybe because it was handed to me with such generosity. I immediately knew You were speaking, Father. And I was ready to listen.

During Jesus’ appearance at the Sea of Tiberius, the disciples were given an instruction. The Bible study notes said: “go to the place God told you to be, do the last thing God told you to do, use your gifts and talents you have been given, wait for further instructions, follow the instructions-even if they don’t seem logical, and experience blessings-God honors work and obedience.” BLESSSSSSS. Thank You, Lord. I am all about that obedience word this year. Lord, when You’re speaking, I’m learning to listen to the instruction and follow through. I tend to get my cart before my horse, a lot. I get so excited about doing kingdom work that I miss the preparation and the wait. But my God, You are teaching me.

This Bible study was like right on point with Pastor Michael Todd’s Marked sermon about obedience. Pastor Michael Todd used David’s anointment in 1 Samuel 16 to illustrate the need to “do the last thing God told you to do and spend time in His presence.” Lord, I love Your timing, when You build upon things I didn’t even realize were connected. Exactly how when diving deeper into John 21 where Peter experiences “complete restoration.” Peter previously denied Jesus three times, now he is questioned three times and he is able to say “Yes, Lord.” 

“You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.”

So, this is my prayer. I pray that I know to whom I belong. I pray that I stop hiding my shame. I pray that stop being crippled by fear. Lord, I have been given new life. I am made new. Abba, Father, I know who I am, I know whose I am. Thank you for where my brokenness brought me to. Thank you for loving me when I didn’t even know what love was. Thank you for loving me when I hated myself. Thank you for doing all you did even before all I had done. Thank you for teaching me to serve in the waiting. Thank you for preparing me. Lord, I pray that I take you up on the opportunity you have given me to spend time in your presence. Thank you for wanting me that much. 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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I gave it up and told the Lord that He can have it now.

Hannah Brencher, who I might stalk on social media and have seen her talks on more than one occasion, posted: “steal this prayer: Lord, place me where I’ll grow the most. Teach me to love the dirt that transforms me. Give me eyes that see the golden threads in my pain. Let me be a lighthouse in this valley. Let it be so.”

I read that and I was like all ready. Like Ok, God, yes, place me where I’ll grow the most. Then, wait. Just a doggone minute. Home girl, say what? Teach me to LOVE the dirt that transforms me. Nope. Not happening. Shut ya mouth. Excuse me. What now? Blesssssss. Ok, God, I hear You. For real this time. I hear You. Love the dirt. Man, sometimes, my human little brain cannot fathom the love You want for us or through us.

Then I have days like today, where Lord, You are knocking on my heart and say: but that’s my child too. That person that abused me. That person that hurt me. That person that cut me off in traffic. That person that shortchanged me at the store. That person that wanted to argue with me just for the sake of arguing. That person backseat driving. That person that makes my blood just boil. That person with trust issues for dayssss and walls so high they can’t even see anymore. That’s my child too. 

Then I realize I am all of those things too. I hurt people. I cut them off in traffic. I make mistakes. I interrupt. I wince when others drive. And best believe I got trust issues and walls. Lord, I am no better than anyone else, and yet, You forgave me. Even as I typed this, I want to defend that one time I cut someone off in traffic and explain it away. Lord, forgive my defensive heart. I forget sometimes that I am a Kingdom Woman. I heard this sermon, called Marked, from Pastor Michael Todd. Lord have mercy. I am marked. I am Yours. I am forgiven and I have the power to forgive others as You forgave me. I do not have to live this way. I have been given freedom. My pastor has been in Romans lately and it just keeps applying to my life, over and over. Romans 8:15 says: You did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear: instead, you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, Abba, Father!

So, here is my prayer today. I am changed. I am marked. I am a Kingdom woman. I pray that I remember that. I pray that I remember who I belong to. I pray that I remember I have a spirit of adoption, not fear. I pray that I continue to forgive and grow every single day. I pray that I learn to mature in my walk with you every single day. I pray that I remember those even the dirt transforms me. I pray that I learn to love the dirt. Thank you for allowing me to come to you with all my walls, baggage, and dirt. Thank you for loving me too much to let me stay that way. Thank you for knocking down my walls gently and gracefully. Thank you for unpacking my baggage and carrying it for me. Thank you for letting me pick up the cross. Thank you cleaning the dirt off me and letting it transform me. Lord, heal this defensive heart of mine that pushes others away. I pray that my heart is welcoming to others and does not become hard-heartened. I pray that I show your love with those around me. I pray that I am always pointing right back to you. I pray that I apply what I’ve learned from the pastor in Romans. I pray for what I learned in Pastor Michael Todd’s sermon. I pray that I continue to obey your commands. I pray that I continue to trust you. I pray that I depend on you, not my own understanding. Thank you for working miracles in my life. I pray that I become an answer to a problem. I pray that I continue to serve. I pray that I torment what torments my leaders. I pray that you keep working on my heart. I pray that I hear your commands. I pray that I spend more time, quiet and still, listening for your commands. I pray for humility. I pray that I give you my heart. I pray that I stop giving power to satan’s lies. I pray that I fill my life with your word. 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.

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.

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.

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.

 

Your love is a light that all the world will see.

I am reserved. I am restrained. I am not wild.

I am shy. I am ashamed. I am not proud to be seen with me.

I give my love in pieces. I hide myself.

I am controlled. I am contained. I burn out.

I am fractured. I have a troubled mind.

I am anxious. I am the restless kind.

I am passive.

I am disengaged.

I am not always present. I do not hang on to every word said.

I don’t always keep my promises.

I am broken.

I am insecure.

I am selfish.

I am not pure.

But Lord, my God, You are. You are all of the things I am not and so much more. You are. You are so gentle. You are constantly whispering in my ear, “my daughter, no matter what you’ve done, just come home.” 

I witnessed this child pitching a fit, like a full dramatic meltdown. This child was in a fighting mood. She was ready. And this father simply, gently, said: “hit me if that’s what you need. I can take it.” All I could think is every time I’ve been that child with You, God. When my heart is screaming. When my eyes are burning from tears. When I’m blaming You. When I’m literally putting You back on the cross. You’re just simply, gently telling me: “I can take it, my daughter.” 

When I was little, I saw the movie version of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Men. There was this scene that forever changed me. This foster kid was in trouble, I don’t even remember what for, but he went to the barn to see his foster father. The father gave him this speech and then put the switch or the ruler or whatever it was in the kid’s hand. He told this kid, he would take his punishment. He told this kid, to literally hit him that he would take the punishment. It was the ultimate image of Your love for us, God. Abba. Father. You literally took the punishment for me. You took the death I deserved. You took the pain I deserved. You loved me unconditionally.

So, that is my prayer today. I simply want to say thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Abba. Father. Thank you. Thank you for loving me with such a pure, unconditional love. Thank you for taking the punishment. Thank you for your gentleness. Thank you for letting this prodigal daughter come home. Every single time. No matter what. Lord, thank you. Thank you for true love. Thank you. Thank you. I am in awe of your love. Thank you for surrounding me in your love. Thank you for reminders of your love. Thank you for the cross. 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.