Better is one day in Your courts.

Psalms 65:4 says “How happy is the one you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We will be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple.” Lord, I am just so thankful You chose me. You sought me out. You bought me. You bring me near. You not only give me a way out, You give me a new residence. You give me a home, in You. You give me love. You give me peace.

I was thinking about all this while I was reading my Redeemed Bible study. I am forgiven. I am righteous. I am adopted and chosen. I have access to the King. I am a citizen of Heaven. I have peace.

I have been thinking about Hunter Hayes new song: Dear God since the single dropped. Poor guy is hurtin. He has some of that stinkin thinkin that I had. Somebody mail this guy a copy of my Redeemed study. I’ve been there. I’ve had the same thoughts. But ohhhhh how Your love has set my heart to dancin. I am a new creation. Abba Father, You save me. You break my heart for what breaks Yours. You sustain me here. You opened my heart and healed it. My trust is in You.

Psalms 66:12 says: “…we went through fire and water but you brought us out to abundance.” The more and more I grow closer to You this year, the more thankful I am for You. Everywhere I turn I see more and more of Your handiwork and I am so utterly thankful for it.

So, that is my prayer today. Thank you for the happiness you provide. Thank you for the satisfaction and joy filling my heart. Thank you for your goodness. Thank you for inviting me into your courts. Thank you for your gifts. Thank you for ways out. Thank you for bringing me near. Thank you for love. Thank you for peace. Thank you for forgiveness. Thank you for calling me redeemed. Thank you for adopting me. Thank you for sustaining me here. Thank you for teaching me. Thank you for making my heart move. Thank you for every beat of my heart. Thank you for the fire and the flood. Thank you for the abundance. 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’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.

I’m just a girl talking to God, praying for rain.

I might be short on sleep. I might be short on money. I might be short on time. I might be literally short. I might be short on sanity. I might quite frankly be short on everything. But one thing is for sure, I’m not short on love and truth. I’ve got an abundance of unfailing love and unending truth. My cup is overflowing. Everything in this world can and will come up short. People will come up short. Places will come up short. Things will most definitely come up short. I will come up short. But You, my God, never will.

I struggle with depression, often. I’ve learned how to maintain most of my anxiety and panic attacks, but they still happen. Sometimes, the whole world thinks I’m fine, but You know I’m not. My friend sent me this Facebook post from a girl who struggles with depression. The girl said she was having a real bad go of it this time and couldn’t even function enough to shower for a week. She posted from this heartbreakingly vulnerable place to tell her family and friends that she was trying. Because on that day, she brushed her hair. She showered and brushed her hair. It seems silly because that’s something we do every single day. We get up, we shower, we brush our hair. Sometimes like a routine, without even thinking about for a minute, just doing it. But when you’re in the deep deep dark places, those everyday things can become hard. Like there’s not a point to even trying. You can lay down and stay in that dark place for days without pulling yourself out. I. Have. Been. There. More times than I care to admit. The lies talk fast and keep coming. Last Fall, I did a Bible study with Stronger by Angela Thomas-Pharr. In the study I learned that the truth is: “this life is harder than what we signed up for.” I also learned “it takes an effort to hide from people.” Angela told us about running the race and how sometimes you have to run through that cramp in your side, sometimes you have to run through the pain.

I’ve also heard previously that: “prayer is a bridge from your mess to God’s rest.” During the 21 Days of Prayer, we learned the warfare prayer in Ephesians 6:11-12 which says: Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Priscilla Shirer has preached time and time again to know who the real enemy is. Another thing I’ve heard is we have to: “put on Christ the same way we put on clothes.” Every. Single. Day.

It’s way too easy to let those bad days become weeks and those weeks become months. The darkness doesn’t even seem appealing. Like I don’t like it there, but once the lies creep in, it gets harder and harder to push them out. I heard once in a sermon that the devil is still telling the same lies he told Eve in the Garden, he doesn’t need new lies because we’re still falling for the old ones. “The devil baits the hook, it harms me, it hurts me.” Ohhh but Father, You give us a way out. Out of the darkness. Out of the hook. Out of the lies. Out of the deep places. Out of sin. Out of temptation. Out of evil. Out of despair. Out of hell. Out of it all. You are the only way out. Lysa Terkeurst says we have to filter our thoughts through Your love, through Your Biblical truth. In that 21 Days of Prayer, we learned that: “truth has to constantly come in.”

The way I pull myself out is looking up. I literally just have to find the strength to look up. Lord, Your word is living and breathing in us. All I have to do is look at Your creations to remember Your truths. The sunshine reminds me of Your perfect light, of Your perfect goodness. The stars remind me of Your perfect love, of Your perfect majesty. The storms remind me of Your perfect grace, of Your perfect mercy. The rain reminds me of Your perfect promises, of Your perfect hope. No matter the weather, I can find You there. No matter my emotions. No matter my shortcomings. No matter my surroundings. No matter my battles. No matter the weather, I can find You there.

Prince Charming on Once Upon A Time said: “Darkness never wins. It just fools you into thinking it does.” Ohhhh Lord. Let that sink into my soul. Say that again. “Darkness never wins. It just fools you into thinking it does.” Ohhhh my sweet Savior. That alone is because of You. Because You already won the war. You already gave Your life. You already defeated death. You already saved the whole world. You already defeated the enemy. You already conquered. During the 21 Days of Prayer we also learned not to put our trust in ourselves. I am not the encourager. I have to take my hands off. You and I cannot carry it at the same time. I cannot raise the dead. I cannot do the impossible.

I heard a message by Allison Wilks, where she told us to stop remembering our sin or our fear or our pain or our loss or our illness or our betrayal more than we remember our Savior. She said that was the devil and his lies. She told us to remember Your character and who You are. To remember You are kind. You are loving. You are merciful. You are just. You are all powerful, all knowing, and all compassionate. To remember Your works. Allison said to remember and move to act, to trust the One who is above all those other things.

So, here is my prayer. Lord, I’m praying for rain. I pray that your truth consumes me. I pray that I remember that life isn’t a race, it’s a marathon. I pray that I run through the pain. I pray I remember who you are. I pray that I remember you are God and I am not. I pray I remember I am yours. I pray that stop feeding the lies. I pray that I stop hiding from people, from you. I pray I remember you are all knowing. Lord, you knew my pain, before I even felt it. You already conquered the war. I pray that I stop fighting a war that’s already been won. I pray that I filter my thoughts through your love and your truth. I pray that I constantly let your truth change me, shape me, form me, move me, guide me. I pray I put my trust in you. Lord, remind me of who you are when it seems like I forget. 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 gonna be a great rejoicing.

I woke up this morning with a need to talk to You, Lord. I saw this interview with Stephen Fry a couple of days ago and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. He was asked what would he say to You. His response: “I’ll say, bone cancer in children, what’s that about? How dare you? How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault? It’s not right, it’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world that is so full of injustice and pain. That’s what I would say.” I’ve heard the interview before but didn’t know what to say or think or do. Seeing the interview reposted a few days ago, I watched it again. I could see the hurt and pain and anger behind Mr. Fry’s words, but all I could think is what I heard in that movie I watched yesterday, In-Lawfully Yours. The pastor in the movie kept saying you can’t be angry with someone you don’t believe in.

This time, I would like to address his remarks. First off, that world he said You created Lord, where there is misery that is not our fault. You didn’t create a world with injustice and pain. You didn’t created a world filled with sin. You didn’t create us with malice. You created the Garden of Eden. You created perfection. You created beauty and life. You also gave us free will and asked us not to eat from one singular tree. But we chose that tree. We keep choosing that tree. We had the option of staying in the Garden of Eden or that tree and we pick that tree every single time. We’re all prodigal children walking away from You because we think we know better or can find better.

Now, about cancer. I don’t know why kids get cancer or anyone gets cancer for that matter. But I do know, You, God are still good. Lord, You have a purpose. You have a plan. I have a narrow and focused view of the world. I can only see what is right in front of me. But, Lord, You have an eternity plan. You are all-seeing. When I look, I can certainly see that cancer is bad, but that doesn’t mean You are. When I look, I can certainly see that pain and death is bad, but that doesn’t mean You are. When I look, I can certainly ask why my friend had to die so young or why my grandma had to suffer, but that doesn’t mean You are bad. You have this glorious plan that covers all time and all things. There is a reason, though sometimes I can’t see it or understand it. Nicole Reed said: “Sometimes the bad things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us.” Maybe You were protecting us from something else or teaching us something or maybe one thing had to happen so that something else would like a domino effect. I can’t begin to understand Your plan. Your ways are not my ways. My brain can’t begin to wrap around what You see. There was a teacher in Tennessee that had cancer and was sitting at home when the entire school and faculty showed up in his driveway to praise You with him. When I look, I can certainly see Your hand in everything around me. When I look, I can certainly see Your goodness.

“Questions of this world, someday will be known.”

In bible study last week, we finished Stronger by Angela Thomas-Pharr. We watched the last video, God Is Stronger Than Every Broken Thing In Me. In the video, she tells a story about her 8 year old son running a 5k. At the end of the race, she was waiting at the finish line cheering: “bring it on home, baby, bring it on home.” So, he runs back to her crying and saying: “Mama, it was so hard.” She responded with: “but, baby, you did it!” Then he said: “that last part was all uphill.” She said that’s how she saw Heaven when our time is done. She saw Angels cheering: “bring it on home” and You, God waiting with open arms saying: “baby girl, you’re home.” Lord, sometimes our journey is all uphill battle, but You are teaching me to press on, every single day.

 

So, here is my prayer today. I pray for Mr. Fry. I pray that you heal his hurt. I pray that you open his eyes and soften his heart. I pray that you keep knocking on his heart, Lord. I pray that you don’t give up on him. Lord, he believes in you, he just doesn’t understand you. Lord, I pray that you help him see your goodness. God, I may not be able to understand your plan, but thank you for it. Thank you for the good stuff that I forget to appreciate and to thank you for. Thank you for the lessons from the bad stuff. Thank you for the assignments and work. Thank you for your ways. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for your benevolence. Thank you open arms. Thank you for Heaven. Thank you allowing me to run my race with endurance and passion. Thank you for teaching me to press on. Thank you for the grand reunion. Thank you for the great rejoicing. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for showing me your goodness. Thank you for showing me your 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.