Oh I live for You.

I heard someone on the radio the other day say: “It is not your ability that counts, but your availability.” Blessss, that reached right down into my soul.

So, today I pulled out my The Gospel of Mark bible study from last year that I never quite finished and began looking over my old notes. I found: “The pardon Jesus handed the paralytic revealed that he wasn’t asking audaciously enough-that his greatest desire was still too dinky. Would you describe the prayers you’ve been praying lately as audacious or anemic? Why?” 

I am not even gonna lie, I have had some pretty anemic prayers in the past. But if working in a group home has taught me nothing less, it is how to pray audaciously. Sometimes we try to fit You into our little human box and forget who You are. We forget You are a miracle working God.

The bible study asked: what’s the most audacious “mountain tossed into the sea” prayer request on your heart this season? Do you feel like you’re whispering it toward Heaven with hesitation and trepidation or bellowing it to the Heavenly Father who delights in meeting your needs?

This study has taught me about the power and authority of You, Father. Lord, You literally tell the storm to be still. You have absolute power over the natural world, supernatural world, and even death. In my notes is the question: How does that truth change the way we live today? That undeniable truth reminds me to stay in my lane. That You are the one in control. That I can trust You. That I can ask audacious prayers. That I can expect miracles. That I can build my life upon Your love.

The study continued with: “I am completely accepted, therefore I obey.” The study taught that our obedience isn’t to work our way into Heaven, but a response in gratefulness because we have been given Heaven.

Mark teaches us through the story of feeding the 5000, that You give us what we need. We simply have to trust and obey.

So, that is my prayer today. I pray I remember who you are. I pray I remember to be still and stay in my lane. I pray I put my words to action. I pray I trust and obey. I pray I live your truth. I pray I build my life upon you. I pray I remember why I build my life upon you. I pray that I remember all the evidence of love and miracles you have placed in life. I am praying an audacious prayer, Father, I am asking for the big miracles. I am nothing without you. I can complete nothing on my own. Lord, it is only through you that I do anything. I pray that I remember to have heart checks daily and respond in gratefulness. I pray you keep teaching me to have confidence in you, in your word, in your ability, in your authority, in your power. Abba, thank you for Heaven. Thank you for saving a place for me. Thank you for providing for me. Thank you for everything. I am making myself available to you Lord. 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 couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His presence.

I’m counting on all these worldly things to keep me safe. I talk about stability but I don’t have any of my own.

I’ll be safe as soon as my car is fixed.
I’ll be safe as soon as we’re out of the rental.
I’ll be safe as soon as I’m in my new room.
I’ll be safe as soon as people stop hurting me.
I’ll be safe as soon as I get daily repetitive positive praise.
I’ll be safe as soon as I pay off my student loans.
I’ll be safe as soon as I start saving some money.
I’ll be safe as soon as I get married.
I’ll be safe as soon as start and finish grad school.
I’ll be safe as soon as I move.
I’ll be safe as soon as I do this or that.
I’ll be safe as soon as other people do this or that.
I’ll be safe as soon as my circumstances change.
I’ll be safe as soon as all my ducks are in a row.

I’m looking for stability in quick sand.

Then it gets serious.
I’ll be safe as soon as You carry me Home.

Lord, You are so gentle. You gently bring me to You.

I started building my foundation on You before I could even walk. I built my life on the rock. Father, You let me build it one brick at the time. You revealed just a little at the time and let me build it. You didn’t rush me. You didn’t yell when I did it wrong. You didn’t pressure or force me. You let me come to You. You didn’t want me to be a slave. You let this be my choice. The most beautiful part is that through it all, You never left me. You never abandoned me or forsake me.

I went on the winter retreat again this year. The first night, they took us on a night hike. I knew it was going to be hard. I like to be still out in the woods, not climb mountains. (Those people leading the hike called it a hill, they were wrong. It was a mountain.) Bless that girl leading the end of the hike, she just didn’t have a clue that You and I were doing WORK on that mountain. I was having a Jesus moment. Lord, that ground was solid under me, but I still didn’t trust it. The rocks moved, but they were solid. I was completely fine. Even if I fell, I would be ok, but I didn’t fall. Lord, You let me build my house on the rock. You revealed just a little at the time. You let me build trust with You. You let me have a relationship with You, Lord, God Almighty.

Lord, some of these things are all fine and dandy, as long as I’m not building my house on them. Some of these are even helpful and healthy. But, they are not where I get my identity, You are. You are my security. You are my light in the dark. You are my strong tower. You are my safe place. You are my lighthouse in the storm. You are my hope, my future, my past, my present. You are my everything.

So, here is my prayer today. I pray for peace. I pray for guidance. I pray for ears that listen. I pray for eyes that seek. I pray for feet that walk. I pray for hands that hold. I pray for lips that speak your name, Abba Father. I pray for a heart that heals. I pray for a holy spirit filled soul. I pray for a mind with filled with Truth, Wisdom, and Knowledge that comes from you and you alone. I pray for knees that kneel in worship and awe of you. Lord, my King, I am in awe of you. Thank you for your gentleness. Thank you for your gentleness. Thank you for your gentleness. Thank you for your gentleness. I pray that I trust you. Lord, this past year, I have had extreme lows, but I have also been extremely filled by your goodness. Lord, this past week, I have had extreme lows, but I have also been extremely filled by your presence. Lord, fill my life with you. I want only your love, your kindness, your glory, your gentleness, your goodness, your presence. This world is not my home. Thank you so much for your teaching. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for the rugged cross. Thank you for carrying all of 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.

It’s nothing He ain’t seen before.

I’ve started reading all these books on kids and teenagers since that is who 99% of my day is spent with and/or praying for lately. One of the books I’m reading said: “The greatest gift we can give our children is a sense of belonging, a place in the family and from there a place in the world.” Ohhhhh sweet Lord, Jesus. We spend our whole lives looking to belong. In friendships, in our families, in our classrooms, in our workplaces, in our churches, literally in every function of our daily lives. We’re all searching for what You already gave us. A seat at the table.

The house we grew up in as kids is temporary. My college dorm was short-lived. Living in the sorority house ends too. That first apartment where I finally got to start feeling like an adult and buy some actual furniture of my own is gone in the blink of an eye. My house right now is temporary. And the hotel I moved into last night for the next few months is most certainly temporary. Eventually I’ll get married, move to another place and that will be temporary too. I’ll start a family, look for a bigger place, again that’s temporary. If all goes well, I’ll retire and go back to a smaller place, still temporary. Life is full of these temporary homes. In reading these parenting books, I keep learning what I can do to help these kids but I also get this overwhelming understanding of Your love as our Abba Father that I didn’t have before. Thank You, my good Lord Almighty, Heaven is not temporary. It is eternal. My name is written in the book. I’ve got a permanent seat at the table. And those things are not temporary. They cannot be taken. They do not fade away. They do not change. Father, You gave me a deeper sense of belonging than I’ll ever even know and I don’t lean on that enough. Lord, You take my brokenness and make it whole.

I read it in my devotion book and I’ve been praying it for like two weeks now since I started my new position at work. “Just use what you have, do the best you can, and trust Him to fill in the gaps.” That’s been my motto working with these kids. I’m trying to use what I have, grow as much as possible, and do the best I can. I already read Praying Circles Around the Lives of Your Children. I’m reading every book I can get my hands on from devotion books: Girls with Swords to parenting books: Be The Best Mom You Can Be to Shepherding a Child’s Heart to working with kids: Boundaries with Teens to Gospel-Centered Kids Ministry. I got actual textbooks like Teaching Social Skills to Youth. I’m trying to find scriptures to back up everything I’m learning and teaching. Lord, You fill the gaps that I didn’t even know were empty. Lord, in loving these kids, You are showing me how much deeper Your love goes. My love fails every single day. No matter much I study and try to prepare, my humanity, my sin, is gonna still be there. But You, Lord, Your love never fails.

I’ve been putting a “verse of the day” on the dry erase board before each shift starts. This weekend one of the verses I put was Matthew 11:28-30 which says: Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Chris Tomlin also has a song about coming to the table and he sings this verse in it.

So, here is my prayer today. I pray for these kids. I pray for these youth. Lord, I’m lifting them up to you. I pray that you teach me, guide me, help me. Lord, I need you. I’m coming to you. I’m bringing it all to you. I’m laying myself down at the cross. Lord, prepare my heart for battle. Prepare me to do your work. Lord, prepare my heart for Kingdom work. Abba Father, thank you for inviting me to the table. Thank you for accepting me as I am, but loving me enough to not leave me the way I came. Lord, I pray that you keep revealing your love and your heart to me. I wanna know you more. God, I pray, I wanna go deeper. I wanna strengthen my relationship with you. Thank you for doing the heavy lifting. Thank you for preparing a feast for me. Thank you for not turning me away. Thank you for restoring me. Thank you for filling my gaps. Thank you for filling my empty places. Thank you for temporary homes and for the eternal place at the table waiting on me. Thank you for sending the Savior to save us 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.

And I’m loved by You, it’s who I am.

And is a three letter word but in my house it was a way of life. My daddy taught us not to do anything half way, ever. Whether it’s work, school, community service, sports, anything and everything. If we’re doing something we’re doing it as if it were for You, God. With everything we have AND all that we are.

My daddy lives in the AND. When my siblings played sports, he drove them to every single game, practice, tournament AND made sure they had everything they needed. He cheered AND coached. He always told us that when the Bible says it is the father’s responsibility to provide for his family, that it means spiritually. He said that when he gets to Heaven, You’re gonna ask about his wife AND his kids AND his own faith. He took that and ran with it. He made sure we each had our own personal relationships with You, Lord, our Heavenly Father AND that we lived our lives for You. AND. AND. AND.


So for Easter when my sister said we were having an egg hunt AND tye-dying eggs for the kids at Church it didn’t shock me. Just like it didn’t shock her when I said I was making cupcakes AND fruit kabobs. It did shock me when my daddy got put into the hospital on Thursday AND still made it to church on Sunday. Hospital stays are never fun and cue Francesca Battistelli lyrics: “in the middle of my little mess, I forget how big I’m blessed.” This weekend had all of us sleep deprived, our gas tanks emptied, banks drained, and house a wreck. Everything was running on fumes: cars, hearts, piggy banks, my hair… AND I still had joy. Because I was knew we do everything with an AND. Because we believe in You AND know You, Lord. You died for us AND You rose again. AND. AND. AND.
So this is my prayer today. Ohhhh Lord, thank you for all the AND’s in my life and thank you for giving us the ultimate AND. Thank you for sending your son. Thank you for the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you for saving me when I give you every reason not to. Thank you for the most beautiful Easter this year. Thank you for light in the darkness. Thank you unending love and unshakable joy. Thank you for rolling the stone away. Thank you for the empty tomb and full hearts. Thank you for forgiveness and healing. Lord, Thank you for making your love my identity, my purpose, my freedom, my home. Thank you for letting your love wash over us and completely change us. And Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for calling us deeper still. 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 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.