Slow, like a Sunday morning service back home.

My daddy used to pick on me because I would paint my nails all different colors. I guess he thought I would grow out of it, but some things never change. I’m still that girl, painting each nail a different color, hoping to make the world a little prettier, a little brighter, and a little happier. One itty bitty thing at a time, I’m gonna make this world better. One nail at a time, one cup at a time, and one prayer at a time.

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I didn’t get my accent from my parents. I got my accent from spending every morning singing along to CMT. I talk slow and walk even slower, but I’d walk 100 miles up a hill both ways in the rain to give somebody the shirt right off my back. That right there I got from my mama and daddy.

When I was getting ready to leave high school, a friend told me that I was in for a surprise and the world was going to change that soft heart of mine and make it hard. They thought since my parents tried to shelter me that made me weak and vulnerable, but that shield of protection is exactly what makes me strong. I know that nothing of this world can give me what I need most, and that’s You, Lord. Only You can sustain my heart. Only You can give me peace. Only You can save me. Only You can keep the world from hardening my heart, but it takes me choosing to follow You every single moment of every single day. No matter how lost I get or how many times I head down the wrong path, somehow I’m always standing right back at the foot of the cross. Only the cross can bear it all without breaking.

I’ve lived, loved, and lost. That friend in high school thought when I got some real life experience that it would harden my heart, but loving and losing lines you right up with where you need to be. At the foot of the cross.

I’m not gonna lie or hide the truth, back then, I only saw my own two feet. I had tunnel vision. I didn’t see what was going on in the world around me. I was innocent and far too naive. Sometimes I didn’t even see what was going on right in front of my face. But the older I get, the more I see Your hand in everything. In every moment. Good and bad, beautiful and ugly, heart warming and heart breaking, every life taking and life giving moment. You, God are always there. Always sustaining.

So, here is my prayer. I pray that I remember that my daddy told me the tongue is the window to the soul and Proverbs 13:3 says: The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. I pray that I remember all the good my parents taught me and I remember the girl they raised me to be. I pray that I remember to watch my words and watch my life. I pray that I give love and grace and compassion. I pray that I speak life, your life sustaining words. I pray that I don’t shy from the truth. I pray that I continue to see your work in the world around me. I pray the more I open my eyes, the more I see you. I pray your love shines out of this soft heart of mine. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for bearing it all. Thank you for defeating even death. Thank you for all I’ve learned, all I’ve been given, and all I’ve lost. Thank you for sustaining this soft heart through it all. 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 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.

Hearts open wide, hands lifted high.

I crave security, of all kinds. Financial, emotional, physical, spiritual, the whole kit and caboodle. It took me reading Sara Evan’s and Rachel Hauck’s The Sweet By & By to realize safety isn’t found in money or a place or another person. I’ve been looking for security in all the wrong ways. Lord, the only way I’m safe is in Your arms. I’ve always been safe with You.

The main character in the book is Jade Freedom Fitzgerald. Jade’s middle name was what she needed most. Maybe I’m the same way. I always thought my middle name was Faith because that’s what my parents needed to have me, but I’m learning maybe it’s what I need most.

When Jade was at her wit’s end, they wrote: “When safe places turned off their cell phones. When safe places ran off with musicians. When safe places moved to Washington, D.C., and never looked back. When safe places chose a sport where men wrestle men instead of loving her.” She was looking for her safe place in the people she loved: her fiance, her mom, her dad, her first love. She didn’t find ultimate and eternal safety until she was sitting alone on a bench swing faced with nothing but the truth. In one of the flashbacks, Jade asked: “If true love doesn’t last, and hearts can be broken over and over, what’s the point? Was Jesus for her?” You had been knocking on her heart and edging her closer and closer to the truth. All she had to do, was finally listen. Later they wrote: “The encounter with Jesus didn’t remove all of Jade’s obstacles. Liking Mama might not happen overnight, but being free compelled her to love. And that had to be a real fine place to start.” (Not gonna lie, when I read that I sang that last line because that’s lyrics from Sara’s song.) Lord, being a Christian and following You certainly doesn’t take all the pain away and it’s some magic cure-all pill that solves all our problems. Following You, gives us perspective. Following You, gives us options and choices. We have the freedom to choose You, to choose love, to choose light, to choose peace. I don’t have to be controlled or trapped by sin, I have a way out. I have choices and I can choose to live with purpose. I can hear Jennifer Nettles in my head singing: “we don’t have to live this way.” 

In the book, they wrote about Harlan (Jade’s dad): “Man was not basically good. There was reality called sin. The world needs redemption. He himself needed redemption. Perhaps Jesus was the only true escape. In his twenty years in Washington, he’d seen what man could do. Dark, evil, selfish. Fed up, Harlan was curious to see what God could do.” Lord, I was taught growing up about the miracles You’ve done. As I grew up, I’ve seen what You can do with my own eyes. Lord, it’s time my heart listens to what my head already knows.

So, this is my prayer today. Lord, forgive for searching so long what you had already given me. Lord, I pray I’m figurin’ out what love really means. I pray givin’ you my heart, is a real fine place to start. I pray you keep callin’. I pray that I know you are stronger than any fear or doubt. Lord, you are changin’ everything I see. I pray that it’s changin’ me. I pray that I never stop looking to see what all you’re doing. I pray I’m always looking for your miracles around me. I pray that I am listening when you’re speaking to my heart. I pray that I am compelled to love. I pray that I take every advantage of your way out of sin. I pray that I remember you gave me options. I pray that I remember you gave me freedom. I pray that I know deep in my heart that I do not have to live that way and I can choose you. I pray that I know you are for me. I pray that I know you are my safe place. I pray that every fiber of my being knows that you will never run away, you’re forever mine, you’re by my side, you forever shine. I pray my life verse keeps changing my heart this month and long after. I pray you keep teaching me that verse. I pray that I apply it to my life. I pray that I trust in your unfailing love. I pray my heart rejoices in your salvation. 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.

Carols comin’ through the radio.

Ok, let’s go ahead and address it. I am still listening to Christmas music. Yes, I am. I even ordered more music after Christmas. Jennifer Nettles has been on repeat for a while now and it’s Chris Young’s turn. I decided I was taking those tidings of comfort and joy into the new year with me and I haven’t let them go.

Ok, now that we got that out of the way, let’s recap the last few days on the 30-Day Challenge for Single Christian Women. Day 4 was taking a selfie-done. Day 5 was joining a bible study-done. Day 6 was dreaming big. This is where I get into trouble. My 10-year plan consisted of:

  1. Graduating college in May 2015-nope.
  2. Getting married on August 20, 2016-nope.
  3. Starting a family two years later-well there’s still time, but it’s not looking likely.
  4. Running a community service organization (preferably for the military, foster kids, or adoptions.)-keeping my fingers crossed on this one!

This is where Day 7 comes into play, which is writing a letter to You, Lord about my hurts, what I’ve learned, and what I like about being single. What I’ve learned is easy: to trust You when my plan fails. What I like is growing in my walk with You and growing as a person. The hurts, I thought was going to be hard to name, because through this challenge, I have felt so blessed. I could handle the never been kissed jokes in middle school, the virgin ones in high school, and the cat/dog lady jokes in college. I am still all of those things, and I can handle the jokes. I can handle my plan not working out or not meeting my timelines. What I can’t handle is the lonely feeling. I moved out of my family home for six years. I have lived alone and with roommates. Now, I’m back with my family and as much as I would loveeeeee my own space, my own kitchen, my own bathroom, a walk-in closet, and maybe some built-in bookcases one day in a house of my own. I cannot live alone again.

I was listening to Chris Young sing Under the Weather tonight and realized that’s what I want. I want someone to bear the weather with. When it’s cold out, I want us to cuddle under blankets watching Christmas movies and drinking hot chocolate. When it’s hot out, I want to roll the windows down and sing country music with him all the way to the lake. When it’s raining, I want him to remind me of Your promises. I want him to teach the kids the same thing my mama taught me about the rain. That it rains when somebody goes to Heaven, and storms are You throwing a party because one more came home. There is a reason for every season. I just want someone to go through the storms and sunshine with.

Day 8 was making time for family. With the “Alabama snow storm” keeping my entire family home all weekend, there was plenty of time for that. All we had was ice, but it was totally worth the six hour game of monopoly we played. I won, of course. Dad made lots of soup too. Day 9 was trying something new. I’m still working on that one, but Day 10 is girl’s night out. My sister, Mom, and I are all going to get dinner and a movie. We’re all pretty excited!

So, here is my prayer. I pray that I remember my life verse from Day 1. I pray that whether I’m standing alone in the rain, I’m driving on ice, or I’m sitting in the sunshine that I think of your unfailing love and rejoice in your salvation. Lord, I pray that I never forget how blessed I am. This challenge has helped me count all my blessings and they are in abundance. And Lord, I have learned how to be content in any situation and any circumstance, no matter how badly my plans fail. Lord, what I’m asking for now is to thrive. I want to do more than just survive. I pray that I find a love so deep that it’s clear to everyone that you were in control. I pray that I succeed and work hard in all I do so that your name is shining bright for all to see. I pray that every breath I take I breathe in and out in your name. I pray that no matter the weather, I praise you. I pray that your love keeps surrounding me. I pray that I sink into your unfailing love. 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 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.

I’m amazed by how You care cause You hear my little prayer.

I stumbled upon this 30-Day Challenge for Single Christian Women on Pinterest from The BarnPrincess a few weeks ago. The original article was posted in April but said it could be started any time. I figured I would start it at the beginning of the year since January was so close and that’s typically the month for New Year’s resolutions and what not.

I am determined to make 2017 a good year. I started my day with soup made with collard greens and black eyed peas. I wasn’t taking any chances this year so I participated in all the southern traditions. For someone who gets picked on for being a terrible cook all the time, my entire family sure ate my soup with no complaints. A little birdy said they went back for seconds too. (Little stinkers better quit telling me I can’t cook!)

Anyways, now that I’m done being distracted, back to the challenge! Day 1 is about finding a Life Verse. The instructions are: “Find a Bible verse that speaks to you and make it your life verse. Focus on having it memorized by the end of the 30 days. Post it where you can see it every day. Journal about it. Be creative with it. Why did you choose that verse? What does it mean to you? How does it give you strength? Or how does it give you direction?”

Ok, homegirl has trust issues I am working on and that seems to be the theme in some of the books I’ve been reading lately. So, taking the hint, I seem to have been given, that is the direction I’m heading this month. I went looking for verses on trust and Proverbs 3:5-6 says: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. That was a prominent couple of verses I read and studied this past summer so I already had those memorized so I figured that was cheating so I continued my search. I found Psalm 13:5 which says: But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. That right there is the one. That right there is what I need. Heavenly Father, those were the words.

I went to read the rest. There are only 6 verses that David wrote in the chapter. Psalm 13 says: How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me. 

First off, You weren’t scared of the tough questions. Second, the other thing that got my attention from these verses is even when David wasn’t getting a response or the answers he wanted in his time, he still praised You. Lord, David was going through so much and he didn’t understand Your plan, but he still praised You. He still trusted You. His heart still rejoiced in You. He still sang for You. Lord, You were listening to David’s little prayer and You are listening to mine.

So, here in my prayer today. I pray for this new year, this new start, this new day. I pray this challenge brings me closer to you. I pray that I think about both David’s little prayer this month. I pray that I listen to David’s psalm and David Archuleta’s song. I pray that I learn to trust in you more. I pray that I trust in your unfailing love. Unfailing love. Lord, I don’t even know if such a thing exists. Unfailing love. Father in Heaven, please open my heart to your unfailing love. Lord, open the floodgates and let your unfailing love cover me. Let is wash over me. I pray my heart rejoices in your salvation. I pray that I see all the good around me. I pray that my heart sings and dances praises for you. I pray that I focus on all the good. 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.

There’s an answer to an unprayed prayer.

Yesterday, I needed something and I couldn’t quite figure out the words. Yesterday, I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, much less hit the nail on the head. I went to get ready to leave and right there in the shower is a bottle of Philosophy soap. Amazing Grace. That is the name of the soap and exactly what I needed. The bottle says: “Life is a classroom. We are both student and teacher, each day is a test, and each day we receive a passing or failing grade in one particular subject: grace. Grace is compassion, gratitude, surrender, faith, happiness, good manners, reverence and the list goes on. Being the smartest, the prettiest, the most talented, the richest or even the poorest can’t help. Being a humble person can, and being a helpful person can guide you through your days with grace and gratitude.” Lord have mercy. I needed grace.

Life ain’t fair. Sometimes we get overlooked. Sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes we get the short end of the stick. Sometimes no one hears our voices. Sometimes we get passed over. Sometimes we’re practically invisible. Other times every single thing we do is criticized and scrutinized. Sometimes everything feels like it’s falling apart. We hit rock bottom, more than once in our lives. Sometimes everything we want gets handed to someone else.

Still, thank You. Lord, we do not understand Your plan. We ask why these things happen. We beg on our hands and knees for that answer. Still, thank You. For plans I don’t understand. For sending what I needed instead of what I wanted. For saving me for something different. For revealing Your light when the darkness seems to overtake me. For forgiving me when I surely didn’t deserve it.

In a sermon, a while back, titled: God is a faithful God, the preacher said: “God’s not fair. I’ll take His mercy. I’ll take His goodness. If He was fair, we couldn’t survive. We don’t know better than God. God is still in charge. We don’t belong to ourselves, we belong to Him.” Later in the sermon he said: “He cares more about us than we care about ourselves.” If life were fair, I would get exactly what I deserve. There would be no salvation, no cross, no Savior. If life were fair, Your Son would not have been sent. He would’ve never been on that cross. I would have been. I have made more mistakes than I care to count. I would get life without parole. There would be no second chances and no saving grace. There would be no growth and learning and experience.

Still, thank You. Lord, life ain’t fair. I have far more than I deserve. I have a roof over my head and more than I need under that roof. I have a purpose and people who love me. I have family to keep me sane and make me crazy at the same time. I have friends to share my life with. I have ways to give back to the community I love. I have a church to attend and serve at. Taylor Swift said: “No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.” I am beyond blessed with people who are good to me and I need to start looking for ways to be better to them.

So, here is my prayer. I shouldn’t get to have such a blessed life, like the one I do. I don’t know what it is you see in me. It’s a real good thing that life ain’t fair. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for thinking I was worth saving. Thank you for the cross. Thank you sending your son. Thank you for grace. Lord, I can be sooo selfish. Help me to show grace to those around me. Help me to offer help to those around me instead of causing more of a burden. I pray that I lift weight on other’s shoulders, instead of piling on. Lord, I pray that I share your grace. Lord help me to show compassion, gratitude, surrender, faith, happiness, good manners, and reverence. Thank you for being faithful. Thank you for mercy. Thank you for goodness. Thank you for always being in control, for always being in charge. I don’t thank you for that nearly enough. Lord, I don’t know better than you. Thank you for that too. Thank you for allowing me to belong to you. Thank you for naming me of your chosen. Thank you for naming me your child. Thank you for calling me yours. Thank you for allowing me to serve you. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I bow down to pray, I try to make the worst seem better.

I was thinking the other day about prayer. I wondered how prayer changes things if You’re all knowing and You already planned it all out. Then today I was hit with some wisdom. Knowledge I already had but shown to me in a different way. You’re all knowing so You knew I was going to pray for help long before I even knew there was a problem. You showed up before the storm ever hit. You showed up before the wreckage, before the rain, before the wind, before the sun rolled away and the dark clouds came out. You showed up before James Spann told us to take shelter.

Now this particular storm might be a metaphor for my life but You showed up before the metaphorical storm or the physical one. You knew my heart before I had one. You knew my prayers before I had a voice. You knew my thoughts before I had a brain. You knew the path I would take before I could walk. Ohhhhh Lord I could sing of Your love forever. You knew exactly what I was going to do with my life. You were just waiting on me to catch up. You knew I was going to stay before I even knew there was a choice to stay or go. Just when I think I know everything You show me something I hadn’t seen before. I heard once: “where ever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.” Lord, when I pray it gives me hope, it brings the rainbow after the rain, and the sun during the storm. You give me one good reason to stay when I try to give you a hundred million reasons to walk away.

Christian Cuevas might not have made it to the finals on The Voice but Lord you had a plan for him long before he even thought to audition. You gave him a million reasons to sing and he chose to sing for You because You are soo good. He was perfectly placed to bring glory to You, just like I am perfectly placed to bring glory to You. Lord nothing is without You. Nothing is without Your plan or knowledge or divine intervention. Every single thing is connected to You. Nothing is random. Every single thing is planned by You in ways that defy words.

Here is my prayer. Lord, today I’m not asking for anything. Today I am in complete worship of you. I am in complete awe of you. Lord, I give you my life. I give it all to you. Thank you for listening to my prayers. Thank for you hearing my heart. Thank you for guiding my path. Thank you for showing me the way. Thank you for finding one good reason to love me when I give you a million reasons not to. Thank you for giving me a purpose. Thank you for free will and for your crafted plan. Thank you for connecting the dots. Thank you for believing in me when I can’t find my faith. Thank you for showing up long before the storm. Thank you for intentional planning. Thank you for eternity designs and decisions. You placed me in the right place at the right time with the right people. Lord, every move was perfectly crafted to bring glory to you. Thank you for perfect placement at perfect timing. Thank you for showing me the light in the dark. Thank you for peace. Thank you for rainbows after rain. Thank you for sunshine during storms. Thank you for hope. Thank you for changing my heart. Thank you for giving me one good reason to stay. Thank you for making the worst seem better. 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.

When I have no words left to say, just lift it up and sing it out.

When I was a kid, everyone ran around the playground saying: “I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.” That was the automatic response of a bunch of first graders when something mean was said. If someone had only told me how much truth was in that, despite hollering on a playground not being the best way to handle things. But sometimes when people say mean things to you, it reflects more on their character than it does yours.

Other times, we can do 100 things right and then one comment made without thinking can hurt real deep. Sometimes, the very people we hold closest can hurt us, even if that wasn’t their intention at all. Sometimes, we have to learn to let things go. We have to be strainers, keeping all the good stuff and letting the messy stuff slip through. Holding onto the messy stuff, is just gonna make us messy too. Drowning in the messy stuff is not going to help anything. It is our job to love and sometimes that means forgiving even when we really don’t want to. We are real quick to forgive ourselves for saying something off the cuff, without thinking. When others do it to us, it is a little harder. Orrrr there’s me and its hard to forgive myself or anyone else. I’m working on both. Lord, You taught us to love because You are love. You loved us first. Before we were even a thought in this world. Long before those playground days.

I’ve heard people say that we take Your teachings through a strainer too. We retain the stuff we like and pay no attention to what we don’t wanna keep. I believe and have been taught time after time that if we do what Luke 10:27 says then the rest will fall into place. Luke 10:27 says He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” I heard in a sermon once: “the Bible was right when it was written and it’s still right today. It doesn’t ever need to be revised.” That preacher also said: “the word is living and breathing in us.” Lorddddd. It’s so crazy to me that I can remember one verse I heard as a kid or something I heard one time in a sermon, but I can’t even remember what I had for dinner two days ago. Then again, DC Talk taught me how to be one of those crazy Christians back in those playground days. Lord, You are living in us. If we would only stop and listen for Your voice.

So, here is my prayer today. I pray that I listen to your words. I pray that I listen to your teaching. I pray that I love you with all my heart and all my soul and all my strength and all my mind. I pray that I love my neighbor as myself. I pray that I sing for you, Lord. I pray that I forgive myself and those around me. I pray that I get away from all the noise. I pray that I listen to you above all else. I pray that I hear your voice. I pray that I live for you and you alone. Lord, I pray that I worship you because nothing else matters. I pray that I let your truth soak down deep into my bones. I pray that your voice is louder than my own thoughts and louder than my own heartbeat. I pray that all the noise fades away. I pray that I find peace in the quiet. I pray that I find you in the quiet. I pray that my one desire is to worship 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.