I was made by You, I was made for You.

I picked up two books at Lifeway a while ago. I just finished one and I’m halfway through the other. The first one I read is Praying Circles Around the Lives of Your Children by Mark Batterson. Now, while I don’t have children of my own, I work with teenagers and volunteer with kids. So, I figured I need to start praying for them more strategically. I should probs thank War Room, for the desire to make my prayers more intentional. In the book, I learned to pray without ceasing, with intensity, with tenacity, by design, by desire, by discipline, with specificity, with intentionality, and with consistency. That list motivates me. I like words and those are some pretty powerful words.

I heard someone say a while back that I cannot expect lost people to act saved. What I’m realizing now, after reading these books, is that people shouldn’t expect me to act lost and should expect me to act saved. I cannot require more than I am willing to give. I am saved. I came home. I have the immovable joy. I am forgiven. I am set free. I have the peace that cannot be taken. I need to act like it. It’s a call to action, in my every waking moment. At work, volunteering at church, with friends and family, in every waking moment I should be striving to love like You, Lord. The other book I’m reading is Having a Martha Home the Mary Way. In that book, Sarah Mae says: “I am clay, and clay cannot mold itself.” That sentence sent chills down my arms and legs. Since Your love got a hold of me, I am a new creation. 

I spend 8 plus hours at work each day and 3-4 at Church on Wednesdays and Sundays. That’s not even including prep-times, trips, or events. There are 24 hours in a day and I spend 8-12 with kids on any day. In my week, consisting of 168 hours, 50 is spent working and 6 is traveling to and from work. 3 1/2 are spent at Church Wednesdays and 4 1/2 on Sundays. More than half my day is spent with those kids, so they deserve my prayers. That still leaves me with 104 hours. Even if I slept a whole 8 hours a day which I don’t usually, that is still only 56 hours. I would have 48 hours a week just for me.

That is 48 hours a week I could be doing something productive. Some weeks those hours seem to slip away. I always heard the older I get, the faster time flies and I am definitely beginning to see that. I don’t even know what happened to January, I blinked and I’m 8 days deep into February. I used to think that self-esteem depended on me and my worth. After reading these books and working with these kids, I see that confidence is found in my relationship with You. Because no one can worship You like me. No one can pray like me. No one can do what I do, how I do it. I am unique. I do not worship the same as anyone else. That is not to toot my own horn, that is a gift I was given by You, for You. My identify, my confidence, my value comes from my relationship with You. No one can satisfy my heart and make me whole except You, God.

Sarah Mae’s book is certainly cleaning my house, but more importantly it is cleaning my heart. In her book, she gave us her mission statement and told us to adapt it and make our own. I figured, since I am a new creation in You, Lord, that a mission statement was a perfect thing to have especially when I am trying to live more intentionally. Ok, so here goes:

  1. I need a safe, sanitary, healthy, peaceable environment for my family. I need a home made with gentle kindness.
  2. I want to love myself and others well. I want to love like Jesus does.
  3. I am becoming like Jesus. I am choosing life over death, goodness over evil, and light over dark.
  4. I will be a life-giver. I will raise life above the level of mere existence through service.
  5. I live out my relationship with God. I live out who God is in me.

Proverbs 14:1 says: A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hand. That is why this mission statement is so important because I am a self-sabotager. I let my emotions and feelings control me, instead of realizing that I am made by You, for You. I don’t have to live this way. I am a new creation. I am born again. That old way of thinking is dead and gone. I can change my thought process.

So, here is my prayer today. Thank you Lord, for using these books to open my eyes and change my way of thinking. Lord, thank you for putting these books in my life and allowing me to apply them to my life. Thank you for words, lists, and mission statements. I pray that I pray for those kids without ceasing, with intensity, with tenacity, by design, by desire, by discipline, with specificity, with intentionality, and with consistency. Thank you for calling me home. Thank you for making me new. Thank you for writing my name in the book. Thank you for peace, freedom, joy, and so much more. Thank you for molding me. Thank you for your love that has a hold on me. I pray you keep holding me. Thank you for making me whole. Thank you for making my worship, my prayers, my gifts unique. Thank you for giving me purpose, identity, confidence, and value. Thank you for wanting a relationship with me. I pray that I take every single word of that mission statement and apply to my life until it is an undeniable truth. I pray that mission statement becomes my reality. I pray that I remember Proverbs 14:1 and use it to build my home on your solid foundation. Lord, thank you for using these books to impact my thoughts and my heart. 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 keep a close watch on this heart of mine.

Day 3 in the 30-Day Challenge for Single Christian Women is deal breakers.

  1. Anger
  2. Playing Games
  3. Family

Anger. Let’s just go ahead and start with the big one. I can’t deal with it. I’ve worked my whole life to not let anger control me, to practice grace and patience. And Lord, you know better than anyone, sometimes I let it get the best of me. But I cannot and will not spend the rest of my life scared or controlled by anger. I need what Suzanne Collins wrote in The Hunger Games: “what I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.” I need someone to love me like You love me. I need someone willing to put in the work to communicate in healthy ways without getting all riled up and throwing a hissy fit. Lord, I need someone strong.

Playing Games. I am all for nerf gun wars and playing monopoly until 2 o’clock in the morning. I am all for acting silly and playing around like a bunch of kids. But I cannot have my heart toyed with. My heart is not a play thing. My emotions cannot be pulled like a game of tug-of-war. Lord, I need someone gentle.

Family. Lord, I do not want to spend the rest of my life fighting with family that don’t like me. I do not have the energy to fight with anyone. It is just not in me. I will fight for someone until my last breath, but I ain’t fighting with someone. There is a huge difference. And Lord, I want a house full of kids. I want to foster, adopt, the whole shebang. I want a house full of love, laughter, and all the gray hairs and wrinkles that come with it. Lord, I need someone with a big heart.

Lord, as much as I say these are my deal breakers, I know that where You guide, You provide. So, if I am blessed with a man who has all three of these things, I will love him and learn to have some more patience. I will still praise You.

So, here is my prayer. I pray that he walks the line. I pray that I walk the line. I pray that we walk the line together. I pray that we walk with you. I pray that I find the dandelion in the spring. I pray that he is strong, patient, and slow to anger. I pray that he is gentle, intentional, and kind. I pray that he has a big heart, that he is loving and generous. I pray that he knows that he loved. I pray that he is willing to work and grow. I pray that I am willing to work and grow. I pray that no matter what, we praise you, together and apart. I pray that I put my trust in you, Lord. I pray that for him I’d even try to turn the tide. I pray that I do everything in my power to protect him and honor him and give glory to you. I pray that you guide me. I pray that I follow. I pray that I am prepared for where you are leading. 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.

For us forever just isn’t that far.

Ok. Diving right into Day 2 of this 30-Day Challenge for Single Christian Women which is the most important things to me in a future husband. I’m just gonna be real honest. This list is hard. I have a million things I could want in him, but all I need is him to love You and the rest can be worked out. I like simple and I have learned in my short 25 years that I can adapt to just about everything with help from You, Lord. Whatever is given to me, I can bring to You, because You are the one that sent it in the first place. In the spirit of the challenge, I’m gonna try to dig a little more into that.

  1. Communication
  2. Give and Take
  3. Intentional

Communication. My friend sent me this picture today that says: “Imagine a man that talks to God about you.” Lord, have mercy. That got me in the feels. I think that is a brilliant place to start. I have been praying for this man as long as I can remember, so I hope that he is praying for me too. Anthem Lights has a song that personified this feeling for me and made me realize I could hope for more than I ever dreamed possible.

“Every day you’re prayed for
And I’m dreaming of you every night
Where ever you are right now
You’re already the love of my life”

Give and Take. I watched this Hallmark movie called: All Things Valentine. One of the characters asked: “how do you know when someone is the one?” The response was: “when they meet you halfway.” When I’m volunteering at Church or Alpha Gam or one of the 1500 fun runs I like, I want him to bring me chicken salad for lunch because he knows it’s my favorite and I probs didn’t stop to eat all day. I want him to take out the trash because he knows I hate it. I want him to offer to dry the dishes when I’m washing them. I want to be home for him. I want to give him more than I’ve ever given anyone. I want to hand him tools when he is fixing the car or something around the house so he never has to reach for them alone again. I want to make him breakfast in the mornings and pack lunches for him with post-it notes to remind him just how loved he is. I want him to come home to a clean house. I know these things may not happen every day, but I want to meet him halfway.

Intentional. Ever since I watched Old Fashioned. I have been obsessed with that word. I went to see the movie with a friend of mine and when it was over she said that stuff doesn’t happen in real life. I told her then that I wanted her to be wrong. I don’t need a mansion filled with all the pretty things life has to offer. My love language is words, I need him to tell me I am loved, and often. I just want kind words that lead to kind actions. I want intentional kindness and love. I want someone who cares about my heart and knows how precious I’ve been guarding it and protecting it. I put my heart in Your hands, Lord. I don’t wanna just give it away.

Ok, so, maybe this list was easier to put together than I thought for and maybe I do have high standards. People might think that I have my head in the clouds and no one can live up to the idea in my head. I am not a child anymore. I do not have unrealistic expectations. It is not unrealistic to pray he communicates with You, Lord. It is not unrealistic to pray that we both learn to give and take and learn to compromise. It is not unrealistic to pray that he is intentional with my heart. I want the kind of love, I’ve read about in books my whole life. I want like Denise Hunter writes, I want to fit together like puzzle pieces. Like we were created by You just to fit one another. I don’t want perfection, but I do believe this kind of love exists. I’ve been a bridesmaid in the weddings that proved this kind of love is real. The reason I believe their relationship is different and they will last is because they invited You into their relationships.

So, this is my prayer. I pray that he communicates with you. I pray that we learn to give and take. I pray that he is intentional with me. I pray for all these things. I pray that he pursues me in your timing and in your way and in your design. Thank you for being the author of my story. Thank you for protecting my heart. I pray that I am a Proverbs 31 woman waiting for an Ephesians 5 man with a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love. I pray that he loves me like you do and I pray I love him like you do. I pray that we spend our whole lives worshiping you together. I pray that your love shines through us. I pray that you are the foundation of our relationship and we grow closer to 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.

You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same.

Two years ago today was the first game of the season and I stood cheering on the Jags with all my might, next to Christopher and Dallas. Everything was completely perfect. How does that day feel like yesterday and a lifetime ago all at the same time? I feel like a completely different person and I feel like that same girl standing there all at the same time. My life was changed for the better because I knew him. Sometimes it’s still hard to believe he is gone.

jaguar game

Psalm 139:23 says: Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. So, here are my thoughts; here is my open, vulnerable heart: I miss him. I miss him every time I say something patriotic because I know he would be calling me Merica. I miss him every time I hear something about politics. I miss him every time it rains and I’m reminded of Your promises, Lord. To be honest, sometimes I’m still mad that he’s gone. I’m mad that I’m getting ready for my graduation and he won’t have one of his own. I’m mad that I am deciding which path to take after graduation and he’s not. I’m mad because I am so uncertain about my future and the fact that he would be so completely certain. So, today, I am admitting I am weak. Lord, I need You. I am angry. I am hurt. I am lost. I have 152 questions about my future. I have 152 questions about what I’m doing this week. I am completely unsure of this week, much less 6 months from now. I have no idea when my car is going to get out of the shop. There is like a million things on my to-do list that I’m not even positive I can finish this to-do list by the end of the week. I most definitely have no idea what I’m going to do after graduation. I could spiral into a whirl wind of uncertainty, but I won’t because of something that Corrie Ten Boom said: “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.” Lord, no matter how uncertain I am, You will never leave me. You have shown me that time and time again. There is a picture that says You loved us at our darkest, then it lists Romans 5:8, which says: but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Paul Washer said: “I have given God countless reasons not to love me. None of them has been strong enough to change Him.” Your love has most definitely changed me though. Your love has changed the way I see things, how I touch things, how I feel things. Your love has changed everything down to the way I breathe.

I am completely sure that You have me. I trust You with every fiber of my being. On Pinterest, it says: “Worship will get you through the roughest times in your life, because it shifts your focus from the problem to the problem solver.” 

Gary A. Haugen said: “The God of Light, in whom there is no darkness at all, is yearning for us to charge the darkness, to be bearers of light in the darkest places.”

So, that is my prayer today. Lord, I need you. I pray that I shift my focus from my problems to you. I pray that I look to you. I pray that I run to you. I pray that you search my heart. I pray that you keep finding me, no matter how far I dig that pit. I pray that I stop asking questions and listen for your answers. I pray that you keep surrounding me with your love. I pray that I not only keep seeing it, but that I share your love with everyone around me. Thank you for loving me at my darkest, my brightest, and every moment in between. I pray that I share your light with the world. I pray that I charge the darkness. I pray that I learn to bear the light. I pray that I learn to seek the light. Thank you for changing 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.

And I’m alright, I’m okay.

I just heard this song that completely related to my life. The song is Downside Of Growing Up. The song starts talking about how hard it is leaving your mama. Well, to be honest, I’m graduating in May, so I’m pretty used to crying as I leave my mama. It really doesn’t get easier leaving, you just also create a home in college, so it makes it hard to leave here too. College pulls your heart in so many different directions, sometimes it’s hard to find all the pieces. This summer, I said good-bye to my mama and moved into a house with a couple of roommates. I love the freedom. I can have candles and there’s no RA coming to check to see if my trash is piled up or if the fire alarm works, again. The downside is there is no more of the really nice maintenance men coming to fix things for me. I have to fix things myself. So, I went into Lowe’s and I figured out what I needed and tried to replace that toilet handle myself. The first time was a bust and to be honest, I wanted my daddy to come fix it for me. The downside is he is 5 hours away so, I had to go back to Lowe’s. The second time was a success. I have never been more proud to fix something in my whole life. Ok. I get it. It’s like a $7 replacement and it was like super easy to do, but I did it all on my own. Ok. It was a big step into the adult world for me.

Then this morning was less than stellar. I started by missing my classes because I was in a car accident. I was on time this morning and I was looking cute, like everything was going good, until it wasn’t. The downside of growing up was that my parents were 5 hours away. The truth is, as bleak as the morning looked, I felt this overwhelming sense of peace. So, because I love lists: Here is a list of blessings for today:

  1. My daddy was on the phone with me the whole time, reminding me to breathe. He is usually a complete softy, ok. I don’t care what all the stories say about how tough or strong or he was or how he used to be like the best football player ever, ok. The man braided my hair and drove me to every single club meeting, event, performance, and cried like a baby every single time he was proud of me, which was every time I breathed. When Gary Allen sings Tough Little Boys, he is singing about my daddy. This morning however, that was the strongest man I’ve ever known. His reassurance held me together.
  2. There was a Bible in the ER room, so I could turn to Isaiah 43:2.
  3. My person dropped everything to be by my side, the moment I called her and she stayed right there by me the whole day. She texted my mom updates. She stood by me as they towed my car away. She stood by me in the ER. She stood by me while I waited on prescriptions. She stood by me at home too, just to make sure I was ok. She was everything I needed and more.
  4. In the X-Ray room, there is a dry erase board. Written on that board is Psalm 86:7 which says: In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.
  5. When the insurance claims man called, he started by saying he was an Alum of South Alabama, Go Jags. I hope me knows how fabulous that was to hear.
  6. My little was beyond thoughtful. She stood by me in the ER in between classes. Then she brought me dinner, AmeriCone Dream ice cream for later, and breakfast for tomorrow. She texted my littles and grandlittles to let them know I was safe.
  7. My lovely Alpha Gam sister serenaded me Shake It Off. It meant more to me than words can explain.
  8. My roommate looked at me when she got home and said you look like you need a hug. I most certainly did.

I might have started this morning thinking I was going to see the downside of growing up, but I felt pretty blessed instead.

So, that is my prayer today. While the song says your dad ain’t there to get you unstuck, thank you for making sure that wasn’t true for me. Thank you for my daddy’s strength and kindness today. Thank you for making sure that you, my heavenly father, will always be there to get me unstuck. Thank you giving me a daddy to teach me that. Thank you for the many wonderful people that took care of me at the accident, in the er, in the line to get my prescription, and everywhere I went today. Thank you for the lady, when I called 911, that told me to just breathe. I pray for all of them. They were so kind and extremely patient with me. Thank you for my sisters for taking care of me. Thank you for Psalm 86:7 and the fact that I can call out to you when I’m scared. Thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone in more ways than one today. Thank you for the downside of growing up. Thank you teaching me and guiding me. Thank you for leading me. Thank you for reminding me how blessed I am. 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 stand in awe.

Lord, Your timing is so incredible to me. It never ceases to amaze me. It’s a year ago today that I started this blog and then today, I heard this song.

I have been searching my whole life to feel like I am enough. To feel loved and respected. To feel appreciated and wanted. To fill like my cup isn’t running on empty, which it has lately. When I heard this song, I realized maybe it wasn’t about me. Maybe I missed the point. You are enough. You love me. You created me. You filled me with a purpose. You put every single hair on my head for a reason. You do not make mistakes. You do everything with love and intention.

I have been stressed out all week. (Yes, I realize it’s only Tuesday.) If I’m being honest, I’ve been stressed all summer. Classes are about to start though and it’s my last year so, reality is sinking in. Those loans are about to become real. Real fast. I downloaded the new First 5 app. I opened today’s and it was a quote from Whitney Capps that said: “Maybe it’s time I stopped editing my prayers because I think He won’t care.” Alrightttttt. You have my attention, Lord. I was ready and listening. Then she goes on to say: “I often think, This is so not a big deal. Jesus wouldn’t care about this. And even if He cares, He certainly won’t do anything about it. Have you ever felt that way? Wondered if Jesus cares about a hurtful Facebook comment, a tense relationship with a coworker, a paycheck that won’t make ends meet…” Wow. Stop there. Wait a minute. That last one right there is me. I admit it.

I grew up believing that finances were private family matters. One does not speak of his/her own finances outside the immediate family, ever. One does not ask about anyone else’s finances, ever. Ok, these were like legit, southern rules. It was just simply not polite to talk or ask about finances. College was an entirely different ballgame. Like not even the same league. Everyone is struggling is some shape or form. No one has it all together, all the time and everyone is open when they’re riding the struggle bus. Somebody went to Foo too many times last week and now they’re making good old fashioned pb&j’s until pay day. When free food is offered, it will run out before the event even starts. We also loveeeeee our student discounts. Those $5 movie tickets practically buy themselves. There are somedays when my bank account just simply hurts. But, here’s what I’ve learned about finances so far:

1. When I tithe regularly, I simply feel better about my finances. I put my money where my mouth is. It feels like my first priority is You and that makes all the difference.

2. Budgets are a necessity, not an option.

3. Emergencies happen. Things come up unexpectedly. Having some savings set aside will turn a mountain into a mow-hill.

4. Do not blow the savings completely. I will admit it. I did it my first year of college. I had all this money saved up from working and graduation and I blew through it all in the first semester. I had a brand new dorm to decorate and I made sure that room was gorgeous.

5. Asking for help occasionally is like taking cough syrup. That junk is no fun at all and it tastes terrible, but sometimes you need it. Asking for help, is like the very last thing I want to do, but it might teach me to a valuable lesson in responsibility and so many other life lessons.

6. Student discounts do not last forever so, take advantage of them while you can.

7. Loans are scary. Like no joke. They terrify me, but if I think of them as an investment in my future, it makes them less of a death sentence and more of a means to having the career I’ve dreamed of. Perspective is key.

8. Learn from mistakes. No one is perfect. Everyone struggles sometimes, but don’t make a habit out of bad decisions.

9. Never let anyone borrow something you’re not open to giving away. Even the very best of people forget to return things or pay you back for dinner when they left their wallet at home.

10. Networking is life. Make connections everywhere you go. You never know which of those connections will lead to a job. The best jobs I ever had came from sources I would have never expected and almost every single job I’ve ever had, has come from knowing someone.

I might ride the struggle bus a time or two during college, but I have never been without anything I needed, ever. I’ve been more blessed than I can even comprehend. This week though, finances scared me. I just started thinking about those loans and graduation and going into the real world and finding my first full-time career job and I just kinda froze, then had a meltdown. Like a full blown, Elsa, meltdown. I’m living in my first place off campus and it’s kinda fabulous. I can have candles, first off! Which is a big deal for this girl because that dorm life didn’t allow them. Deciding to live with my roommate was kind of an easy decision. I mean, she’s my soulmate after all. The first big, adult decision I’ve had to make was what kind of mattress I wanted. I’ve never had to make that decision before. So, needless to say, I might have gone overboard. I have been researching and trying to decide for like two months now and I still have no idea what I want. I understand that buying a mattress isn’t life altering or anything, but I just feel like it’s a big decision. I have been spending so much time deciding what kind of mattress to get and I haven’t spent one second in prayer with You about it because I thought it’s just a silly old mattress, why would You care? You have more important things to worry about than my mattress choice!

In the First 5 today, she said: “How differently would I approach prayer if I trusted God like Mary did? Maybe it’s time I stopped editing my prayers because I think He won’t care. He may ask, ‘Why do you involve me?’ I pray I’m faith-filled enough to answer, ‘Because I trust You.'” 

So, today this is my prayer. First, I want to pray the First 5 prayer they provided: “Father, forgive me for believing the lie that You don’t care about every detail of my life. Help me trust You to hear and act. I want an honest prayer conversation with You free from the fear that I am insignificant. Help me to involve You in all of my life.” I pray that I put my trust in you. I pray that I remember that you are more than enough. Thank you for blessing with me with so much more than I could ever imagine. Thank you for always taking care of me. Thank you for giving me everything I needed and so much more. Thank you for little reminders that you’re here. Thank you for filling my cup, time and time again. 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.