You are perfect in all of your ways.

Ok, so here’s the deal. I do not like uncertainty. I like plans. I like structure. I like organization. I like safety and security. I have liked these things since birth. I am not the kind of girl who can fly by the seat of her pants and sail through life. I am the kind of girl that when her friends invited her over as a kid, it was so I could clean their rooms. I was the kind of kid that when my parents told me to clean up before I could go hang out with my friend, I would clean the entire house, not just my bedroom. You have been trying to teach me trust and obedience since birth. You would think by now, with everything I’ve been through, I would have this lesson. Nope, I still don’t.

I have, however, learned to take some things in stride. When it came time for the pageant my senior year of high school, everything was a hot mess. My hair wasn’t curling the way I wanted it to. My parents were running late. Then when we finally got into the car, there was an accident and the police told us to take an alternate route. Like, if it could go wrong, it probably happened that day. When I finally got there, none of that mattered. I was with my friends and I knew this was going to be one of those memories I cherished with them. We took way too many selfies and laughed until we cried. We smiled so much, our cheeks hurt for days after.

When things don’t go according to my plan, I used to get panicky. My face and chest turned red. As if it wasn’t blatantly clear that I do not have it together, here is the big red sign. I would pace the room, trying to plan my way out of whatever mess I’m in. As crazy as I looked, I have gotten really good at getting myself out of sticky situations. I am pretty good at finding solutions when it seems like there isn’t one. I might have looked like a nut job for about 5 minutes, but I can pull something fantastic out of it. Now that I’m older, I’ve learned to do this without turning red and pacing the room.

One of my biggest struggles is discovering what You are trying to teach me when things don’t go according to my plan. I’ve realized that every time something happens that I wasn’t ready for, it has prepared me for something else down the road. I don’t believe that things just happen. I believe that there is reason for the madness. I believe there is a purpose for everything. It’s all part of a grand design. The older I get, the more I start to see You in literally everything.

So, that is my prayer today. Thank you for teaching to seek you in all the uncertainty of life. Thank you for comfort and healing. Thank you for teaching me. Thank you for guiding me. Thank you for your plans. Thank you for planning that eternity plan and not focusing on my ten year plan. Thank you for when my plan messes up. Thank you for saving me when I lose my balance. Thank you for teaching me obedience. Thank you for giving me open arms to trust and put my faith into. Thank you for being a good good father. Thank you for who you are. Thank you for loving the way you do. Thank you for being perfect in all of your ways. Thank you for showing me grace when I don’t deserve it. Thank you for having patience with me. Thank you for waiting on me to catch up and to finally understand what you were trying to show me. Thank you for showing me how to love. Thank you for showing me how to trust. Thank you for showing me how to have faith. Thank you for giving me purpose. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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.

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.

’Twill be my joy through the ages to sing of His love for me.

One of my worst fears is that I’m not enough. That my friends secretly don’t like me. That I am a burden to my parents. That I won’t ever graduate and even if I do then I won’t find a job. That I will never fall in love. Some of these are completely irrational. I thought they all were, but sometimes that scary feeling of doubt becomes reality. These doubts try to steal my happiness. This morning at church though, they discussed the difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is tangible and can be changed. Joy is from You, Lord. Joy is eternal and cannot be taken from me.

They also talked about how You were a just God, a God that disciplines, not just a God of love. I was always taught both. I was taught that You are just because You are love. You are a parent. You teach us right from wrong because You love us. You discipline us, but You do it from a place of love. I don’t think You are one without the other. I focus too much on the storm itself sometimes. The storm isn’t the important part. It’s what we learn from the storm. It’s that You never left us through the storm.

I have always felt the need for approval from others. I’m working on it, but it’s still there. I am a strong, motivated, organized, competent, fully capable person, but I still have a tendency to act like a doormat and let people completely determine my happiness. I still have a tendency to let my fears control me. On Klove this week they said: “When you fear God, you fear nothing else.” I needed this reminder.

You have seen me at my complete worst. You see more than anyone else sees. These people that look down on me and don’t see my potential when haven’t even seen half of me. You saw me in middle school when I didn’t react to things the way I should. You saw me through the terrible teen years where I talked back to my parents. You saw my every negative and bad thought. You saw me go through a half gallon of ice cream in one day because I was upset. You saw me when I was a little kid and I didn’t wanna share with my sister. You’ve seen me break things. You heard every bad word I’ve ever said. You saw me hurt people I loved. You saw me do every single wrong thing I’ve ever done. You have seen allllll of me. The good, the bad, and certainly the ugly, but one thing remains, You love me.

Because You love me, You have taught me quite a few things growing up. You have been my guide and my light. Lynn Cowell said: “Time of change can pull out the worst in us, tempting us to behave in ways we’re not proud of. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to see and choose, today, the opportunities we have to do good.” She also said: “Jesus, if I am going to show and do any good today, it is going to have to be by Your Spirit living through me.” Acts 3:19 says: “Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.” Because You are loving and just, I am changed. Because You are loving and just, I stand amazed.

So, that is my prayer today. I pray that I let go of the insecurities. I pray that I turn my eyes and focus from other things. I pray that I spend more time with you. Thank you for teaching me. Thank you for guiding me. Thank you for being the light in the darkness. Thank you for being just. Thank you for showing mercy and grace. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for giving me life. Thank you for giving a joy that cannot be taken. Thank you for your word. Thank you for creating me. Thank you for working on me. I pray that because I am forgiven that I am changed. I pray that I see the opportunities to do good today. I pray that your spirit is living through me. I pray that because I fear you, I fear nothing else. I pray that I learn to react to things 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.

I’m in awe of You.

Klove’s radio station was on point today. Their verse of the day was Ephesians 1:23 which says: And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with Himself. They also played this song:

Trent Shelton posted this picture a few months ago and it stuck with me. It said: “Protect your peace today. Rise above any ignorance. Don’t allow someone’s misery to steal your joy.” I’m so glad I was reminded of that today. I was also reminded of what I read in Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl and how Lysa Terkeurst wrote about her daily struggles. While her days are filled with children and marriage and other things I don’t have yet. (Probs because I’m not ready. I mean Your plan is wayyy bigger than my own.) I related to her and how she learned to deal with the little random things that come up in a day. It’s not that the past couple of days were bad or anything. All in all they were pretty uneventful. It was just tiny little things trying to add up and trying to steal my peace. It was just normal everyday mess-ups. I was given the choice to let those things add up and consume me and overwhelm me or I could let it go and not let it steal my peace. I remembered Lysa’s story and I chose the latter. (Usuallyyyy I chose the first option. See? I’m learning!) She said that the more time she spends with You, the easier that lesson becomes and I am learning that in my own walk with You.

(Plus my little stopped by with ice cream which totes made my day better too!)

So, this is my prayer today. Thank you for Lysa’s stories and Trent’s words. Thank you for Klove verse of the day. Thank you for Chris Tomlin’s song. Thank you for my little and her kindness. Thank you for all the beautiful reminders today to not let anything steal my peace and my joy. Thank you for giving me that peace and joy. For as many things I had today trying to steal my joy and peace, you were there with reminders to hold on. Thank you for that. I pray that I continue to see your work in me. I pray that I continue to surrender my life to you. I pray that I keep bringing everything to you and laying everything at the cross. I pray that you keep surrounding me with your love. I pray that your love consumes my every thought and action. I pray that you fill my life. I pray that you keep making me whole. I pray that you keep guiding me and leading me. I pray that you keep making my life full and complete. I pray that I keep studying your word. I pray that I continue my walk with you more and more. 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.

Jesus lead me all the way.

I was watching this movie the other day and they talked about we slowly become our parents. We realize they are just human as we are and make mistakes. They said we should take all our parents good qualities and throw out the bad. I hope I take my dad’s cliches and quotes. I hope I take my mom’s attention to detail. I hope I take the things they taught me. I don’t always agree with them though. I’ve had countless conversations with them about discipline. I think the line gets fuzzy real quick on what is too far or not. I think each child has a different line and responds to discipline differently. My parents did what they thought was best for their kids.

Neither of my parents listened when Theodore Roosevelt used the African proverb “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” They raised their voice and carried the big stick! I don’t want either. I don’t wanna raise my voice or carry the big stick. I’ve tried to speak with care and concern while I’ve been in college. I want to be able to speak calmly and with attention. In trying to work on it and be conscious of it, I wind up just walking away when I’m upset. I’ll come back and address the situation, but I need time to gather my thoughts first because I don’t want to say something I’ll regret later.

Truth be told, I don’t know which is better. To be like my parents and be passionate or to be like me and be cautious. There is good and bad to both. When they love, they love big. My parents have some of the biggest hearts I’ve ever seen. They are so giving and generous and loving. I’ve listened to them and I’ve read studies. I’ve tried to form an educated and informed opinion. I think I am creative enough to come up with alternatives that will support my beliefs and opinions while benefiting my future children. I know I won’t be perfect. I will make mistakes. They will probably have a list of things they want to do differently. I hope they do. I hope they are better than me. At the end of the day, I hope they see me the way I have come to see my parents. As imperfect humans doing what they believed was right with the best of intentions.

I’ve heard that a lot of differences between parents and children is generational gaps. They were raised and taught one way and we were another. On an episode of Bones, Dr. Brennan made a comment about how we have to be better and surpass each generation because that’s how society gets better. I think that’s true. Their generation was taught that “no means no.” Which I think was a start. However, I was raised in the “yes mean yes” generation. That what I wear doesn’t condone that kind of behavior. That even silence in not an invitation. That until I give a completely clearheaded yes, there is no consent. I believe I should have the power to change my mind and say no at any given moment. I believe that I should be able to take things as slow as I want or need. Anything less than that level of respect is not ok. I think my generation got that right, but I also believe that my generation could learn a few things from their generation too.

So, that is my prayer today. I pray that I keep questioning everything. I pray that I keep learning. I pray that I keep becoming the woman I want to be. I pray that I stay grounded in what my parents taught me and learn new things for myself too. I pray that most importantly I keep listening for you. I pray you keep guiding and teaching me. Thank you for my parents. Thank you for guiding them. Thank you for their love and support. 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.

Give us pure hearts.

This morning during the service we were asked to remember when we were first saved and think back to when we had the most zeal for you, Lord. I was in the 2nd grade and I was sitting with my family in the balcony of the church. I was at the front of the balcony looking down at everyone and we were singing and worshiping you. I remember feeling so much love and passion for you. All I wanted was to be closer to you, to reach out to you. I ran back to my mama in the middle of the song and told her I was ready. So, during the invitational Mama took me down to alter and we talked with the children’s director about getting baptized. I had already been saved but I wanted to be baptized. I don’t know what was so special about that day other than I just felt so on fire for you, Lord. I just felt called by you and I wasn’t afraid at all. I was excited and ready. I don’t know if it was the song we were singing or what, but I just felt you with me.

Too often we let the rest of the world leave us scared and hesitant; like if we are different, we aren’t good enough. I sometimes miss being a kid, when we were resilient and so ready and willing to be called. I think we all should try to hold onto some of that childhood innocence and zeal for you.  I can remember going to summer camps as a kid and we would have chapel everyday and devotions and small group stuff. Everything was tied back to you somehow. I just remember feeling so refreshed and ready to go out into the world after camp. I wish we still had now. Camp was like sacred, like nothing bad could happen there; it was a safe bubble separated from the rest of the world.

Life gets in the way sometimes. I get so busy running around that I forget to say thank you. I forget how to keep that childhood zeal I had for you. I need to work on that. I need to work on staying in your word and having that “camp attitude” all year long. I need to remember to come to you more frequently and more abundantly with an open heart.

“Give us clean hands, oh God and give us pure hearts
Let us not lift our souls to another

Oh God let us be a generation that seeks
Who seeks Your face, oh God of Jacob
Oh God let us be a generation that seeks
Who seeks Your face, oh God of Jacob”

This is my prayer today. I pray that I stay faithful to you. I pray that I come to you with open eyes, open arms, and an open heart. I pray that I come to you with the same zeal that I had when I first accepted you into my heart. I pray that I learn to be more seeking of you. I pray that I fall to my knees in search of you more often. I pray that I come humbly before you. I pray that I keep my eyes focused on you, Lord. I pray that you keep working on my heart. I pray that I keep running 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.