Open my ears, I wanna hear You speak.

I want to curl up in my bed with my Bible until I can process this. I want to shut out all the noise and distractions and opinions. I just want You, God. I am starting to lose my mind. Wait, back up, that process has most definitely already started. I want my mind back…on You, God.

Before Church this morning, I wanted to hear some preaching before the preaching. I pulled up Steven Furtick again. This time he was talking about Joseph’s dreams again. He’s preached on the importance of telling your dreams to the right people before and how to protect your God-given dreams. This message picked up right there and carried on.

Steven said: “a dream will make you bold.” Well check. I got bold alright. I started doing my best to move mountains and shake up the Heavens. Then he talked about the dream we see in one part of our life will show up later in a different dimension. His second point was that: “a dream makes you different.” Check. Check. The last point was that: “a dream can become a distraction.” Well that is exactly where I am now. I am not sure if this is a test to see if I have what it takes to keep going or if You are giving me an out because this isn’t what You wanted or if this is where I learn how to handle things going forward.

Joseph had the courage to wear his father’s coat, knowing his brothers hated him. He shared his dream with them, knowing them would hate him even more. Maybe it was immature to share his dream with his brothers, knowing how they feel about him. Maybe it put too much pressure on the dream by telling people that hated him. Maybe the dream changed because of our own agendas. Maybe we lose all sight of the dream and make it all about us. But You can use even this mess for Your plan.

I don’t want to leave my coat hanging up in the closet. I want to follow You and when I do, dreams will follow. Steven preached the dreams followed Joseph into slavery, into prison, into the pit, into all of it. Then Steven said: “you’ve got the right dream, you just need to see it differently. What if your dream was just the first draft? Are you open to a revision?”

Then the preaching took the message home for me. Steven taught God develops dreams in the dark room. Your dream is developed by a professional. Do I have the patience to let it develop? Do I have the courage to hand You the negatives? Even in the darkest places of my disappointment.

Then today at Church of the Highlands, Pastor Chris got me all riled up for Easter. He preached on Freedom and how each of the things Jesus went through were promises fulfilled for us. The whip was freedom in my body. The crown of thorns was freedom in my mind. The nails were freedom in my hands, for everything I’ve ever done and every time I’ve gone too far. The last point he made was the spear was freedom in my heart. That’s when I started weeping. Because when they stabbed Jesus with the spear, He was already dead. His blood was mixed with water because of heart failure. It wasn’t the 39 stripes that killed Him. It wasn’t the crown of thorns pierced into Head. It wasn’t the nails stabbed into Him. It wasn’t the suffocation. It wasn’t even the spear in His side. It was heart failure. His heart was crushed.

And He did all of this while holding onto His peace. Through it all he went like a lamb headed to the slaughter. He went willingly and without persecuting His enemies. He could have stopped the whole thing at any time, but He didn’t. He was loyal to You, Your plan, and my salvation.

Even in my darkest places of disappointment. Even when I am heartbroken. I can still carry peace. I can still follow You. I can still extend grace. I can still find You. Steven preached: I’m in the center, but not for status, for service. The greatest thing You are going to do for my life is use it to contribute to others. He said: I don’t have to be the one singing the song, I just have to be a part of it. The dream isn’t about me. The end of 2 Chronicles 20:15 says: the battle is not yours, but God’s.

So, this is my prayer. I pray for peace. I pray I hold onto that peace. I pray I hold onto you. I pray I remember that I am not God. I pray I remember who you are. I pray I remember the whole point of the story. I am not the whole story, Father, you are. I pray you develop my dream. I pray I leave it to the professional. I pray I trust you with the negatives. Thank you for freedom in my body. Thank you for freedom in my mind. Thank you for freedom in my hands. Thank you for freedom in my heart. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for taking what was meant for me. Thank you for taking it while holding onto peace. Thank you for taking it like a lamb. Thank you for reminding me the whole purpose is service. Thank you for reminding I am not alone. The dream is not about me and what I want. I am sorry I try to make it about me. I am sorry I rush things. I am sorry I put my agenda before your plan. I am sorry I put pressure on the dream. I am sorry I let the dream become a distraction. 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.

You calm the storm when I hear You call my name.

A few weeks ago, I read Sara Evans’ and Rachel Hauck’s Songbird Novel series and it’s about all the relationships in this woman’s life. Between her parents and in-laws and husband, everyone around her. It’s not just another love story, it’s about life and forgiveness and loss and moving forward through the rough patches. The woman in the book is getting married and doesn’t know whether to invite her mom or not. The mom was talking to her friend about it and said there was too much water under the bridge. And this friend with all her wisdom says: “Come to my house tonight. I’ll loan you my canoe.” I burst into tears right there. No matter what water is under all the bridges life has to offer, I’m so glad for the friendships I have and the knowledge that they always have a canoe for me to borrow. They always keep me afloat.

When the people I love are going through a hard time. When they can’t find the light in the tunnel. When all they need is time. When they need peace. When they need what I can’t give. When they have to pull themselves out of the deep places. When they’re drowning and need a canoe. All I can do is encourage and and be there for them. I had to learn the hard way that as much as I would love to do it for them, I cannot live for them. They have to make the decision to pull themselves out. All I can do is offer my canoe. David Ring said: “It’s one thing to show people love. It’s another thing to stick around for the pain.” I’m here and I’m not going anywhere.

Lord, I am not You. I cannot save people. I cannot give them peace. I cannot heal the pain. I cannot do what You do. But I can be Your hands. I can loan them my canoe. Beth Moore said: “God is not afraid of your questions, girlfriend. He wants to stir them up-to send you searching for answers.” I can pray for them and share with them where I find answers, my canoe. Part of Church of the Highlands’ 21 Days of Prayer is the Warfare Prayer and they talked about how in prayer, we can identify the lies so we can quiet those lies and amplify the truth. At the end of the sermon, the pastor said to ask You to: “give us assignments.” Prayer is a two-way conversation. Even when we hear silence, You are working. You are not done with us yet. There’s a quote I found that says: “Having a rough morning? Place your hand over your heart. Feel that? That’s called purpose. You’re alive for a reason.” Lord, sometimes when we feel lost and unloved, the best thing to do is give love. Sam on Touched by an Angel said: “If you can’t find the love, let God love through you.” 

There is purpose for the pain. At Winter Jam, on Friday, we took the youth group and Tenth Avenue North was telling a story about their song: I Have This Hope. They were talking about why we call it Good Friday and how it’s because of what happened on Sunday. That dropped truth way down into the deepest parts of my soul and of my heart. Lord, sometimes we have to go through what we do not understand because we see the world with a limited view point. We see the world around us, but You see the whole world and everything around it. You hold the whole world in Your hands. You hold me in Your hands. You hold them and us and sinners and everyone in Your hands. You call us by name. You created every part of us for a purpose. You never left us.

So, this is my prayer. Thank you for sending your son. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for hope. Thank you for purpose. Thank you for being there in the flood and fire. Thank you for walking with me. Thank you for calling me by name. Thank you for changing my heart. Thank you for lighting the dark. Thank you for canoes. Thank you for your unending love. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for loving through me. Thank you for letting me love others. Thank you for showing me how to stay through the pain. Thank you for questions and answers and two-way communication. Thank you for assignments. Lord, I pray that I keep going, keep moving forward. I pray that I chase after you and loan my canoe to those I love so they can chase you too. 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 gonna shout Your name till the walls come falling down.

In The Goodbye Bride by Denise Hunter, she talked about being the kind of woman who is “wearing out the knees in her jeans.” I wanna be that kind of woman. I wanna tackle everything that comes my way in faith. I wanna bring everything to You. I wanna handle every single moment in prayer, the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, and every second in-between. In the 21 Days of Prayer, we learned to make our prayers 1. united 2. scriptural 3. bold, zealous, and fervent. We were also taught to “pray from a position of victory” and “pray from a position of power.” I wanna do more than just take notes on Sunday. I wanna apply those notes to my life. I struggled in school with that. I was real good at learning what I needed to know, but when asked to apply those concepts, I was at a loss for words. I learned how to study and apply concepts in college. Now, I wanna do it to my prayer life.

I heard that: “prayer is the most conversation of the day. Take it to God before you take it to anyone else.” This past Sunday, the devotion we started the morning off with was on prayer. I love when things connect like that. Like how I was praying about Abraham and Sarah and Genesis 16 then that’s we’re gonna discuss next week in Bible study and it is the next story we are gonna focus on in the children’s class. Lord, You have a divine design and You craft every single moment to line up to teach us and for Your master plan. You’re playing Connect Four with our hearts.

Lord, I’ve put walls up somewhere along the way. I thought it was to protect and guard my heart, but really I was just keeping others out. There is a picture on Pinterest that says: “he broke down her walls without her even noticing and when he rebuilt the walls he added windows to let the sunshine in.” I wanna let Your light in, Lord.

So here is my prayer today. I wanna pray the prayer I found in my notes: “God, help me to focus on truth instead of the trial. Help me to give thanks instead of giving into fear. Help me to choose joy instead of anger. Help me to trust in your power instead of my plan. Help me elevate your name instead of my own.” Lord, I pray that I choose you. I pray that I keep choosing you. I pray that you take down my walls and put windows in. I pray that I am open and transparent so others can see you in me. I pray others to see your work in me. I pray others to see your love in me. I pray they see your name written all over my life. I wanna praise you. I wanna worship you. I want to pray from a position of victory and confidence and scripture and boldness and from a place of your power. I pray that the knees are worn out on my jeans because of a lifetime spent in prayer. I pray I pick up my cross and follow you. I pray that I take up residence in a place of healing and freedom and 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.

Take your time and let it last, little girl.

I watched the Church of the Highland’s prayer service online this morning. The pastor read Colossians 4:2 which says: Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. He said: “Giving thanks in prayer helps us to remember that God is good and God is always in control.” I needed that reminder today. I started thinking about other times in my life when I needed that reminder that You are good and You are always in control.

Dear 8 year old me, you have enough faith to fill an ocean, don’t lose that. When the invitation comes, hold your mama’s hand down the aisle and squeeze it real hard. Listen to MercyMe sing: “You are one of the redeemed. Set apart. A brand new heart. You are free indeed.”

Thank You Lord, for teaching me to have courage.

Dear 13 year old me, listen to your mama when she says standing up for yourself isn’t putting others down. It doesn’t change them, it only changes you. It hardens your heart. Being too nice should never be the issue. It’s a lesson you’ll keep fighting for the rest of your life. People will come into your life sooner than you know it that will need and appreciate your kindness. Listen to Jake Owen sing: “If I had a dime for half the things I did that didn’t make no sense at all, I’d be living a little higher on the hog. If only I’d’ve known that later on down the road, I’d look back and not like what I see. I’d’ve changed a lot of things… Startin’ with me.”

Thank You Lord, for teaching me to soften my heart.

Dear 17 year old me, things aren’t always going to go your way, no matter how hard you work. You are going to make mistakes. You are going to get rejected again and again. When you start to get an attitude and want to just throw your hands in the air and say whatever, listen to your mama’s voice telling you to say your verse, Philippians 4:8. Listen to Brad Paisley sing: “And oh you got so much going for you going right. But I know at 17 it’s hard to see past Friday night.”

Thank You Lord, for teaching me to seek You and find my worth in You.

Dear 24 year old me, stop letting fear control you. Trust Him. He is going to close doors you thought you really wanted and open other doors you never saw coming. Keep learning to bring everything to the cross before you bring it to the world. Listen to Carrie Underwood sing: “Cause it’s hard to know just what to do when I still feel like a child in my mama’s shoes.

Thank You Lord, for teaching me to have courage.

The pastor also said: “God is always moving even when I cannot see it.” Thank you Lord, for allowing me to see Your hand in my life. I didn’t see it at the time, but thank you so much for moving in my life, despite my fear.

So, that is my prayer today. Thank you Father, for guiding me, for teaching me, for leading me. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for the knowledge that I am not alone. Thank you for your goodness. Thank you for listening to me over the years. Thank you for tapping on my heart and knocking on the door. Thank you for allowing me to worship you. I pray that I keep putting my trust in you. I pray that I come to you more often with a thankful heart. I pray that I come to you alert and ready to hear your teaching. Thank you for so many lessons. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for my faith. Thank you for my mama and daddy and all they have taught me too. Thank you changing my heart over the years. Thank you for allowing me to grow. 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 the well that never runs dry.

A sweet preacher in Mobile teaches that You love us too much to leave us the way we are. Ever since I heard those words, it has become more and more evident in my life. Last Sunday afternoon, the message was on the Holy Spirit and how we were born with a hole in us and a need for Jesus. I’ve heard before that we have a Jesus sized hole and we try to fill it with everything else and it never fits right. I’ve experienced it too. I know the pain of trying to make myself whole on my own. I can’t do it and no one can do it for me. The only one that can make me whole is You, Lord. I’ve been thinking about the message and rereading my notes all week.

In college, I saw a lot of thriving, but also settling, for relationships, for majors, for jobs. I saw people go out every single week and come back feeling worse than they left. I saw people hold onto any semblance of a relationship, no matter how toxic or wrong for each other they were. I saw people struggling so hard in classes and careers they didn’t even want. I saw people lose or give up on majors and careers they spent their whole lives wanting. I saw a lot of hurt and pain. Taylor Swift’s song Bad Blood was supposed to be about stickin it to the mean girl or whatever. And I jam out pretty hard, every single time it comes on. But when I really sit down and listen to the lyrics, I realize how truly, deeply sad it is. I saw a lot of bad blood in college, and even had some myself. My relationship with You allows me to be set apart from some of that heartache because I deal with it by taking it You, learning from it, and letting it go without it consuming me. I learned in college, that not everyone has that relationship with You and some of them are truly, madly lost and searching for things to fill their God shaped hole and coming up empty. I learned in college that “Band-aids don’t fix bullet holes.”

In the sermon, the pastor told us we have a spiritual hunger that has a voice like a growl and the more we feast on You, the more hungry we become, the more we crave it. He said we can’t stay the way we are, that only You can satisfy us. I just read The Goodbye Bride by Denise Hunter, in literally two days. I mean, from the first page, I was almost in tears and completely captivated. I couldn’t put the book down. The story came down to a couple who didn’t handle things by taking them to You, they tried to handle them on their own. Both fled. Both left. They lived Toby Mac’s lyrics: “I’d be packin’ my bags when I need to stay.” When they found each other again, they learned to take things to You in the process.

When we are kids, we are taught that voice in our head, showing us right from wrong, is our conscience. It is our own little Jiminy Cricket living in our head. I think it’s more than that though. The closer we move to You, the more clearly You speak to us. I believe that You use signs, signals, people, doors, windows, walls, roadblocks, whatever You need to speak to our hearts. Sometimes it’s obvious. Sometimes we have to slow down and be still so we can listen. In The Goodbye Bride, Denise wrote: Help me, God. Something pulled inside. Something she’d never felt before. A hard tug in her spirit, telling her to stay.” That girl had never known anything but running. Running is all she had ever been taught or knew how to do. Later she wrote: “But there was a God who loved her enough to give her courage in the face of her fear. I will never leave you nor forsake you.

So, this is my prayer today. Lord, I was so deep, so incomplete til’ you rescued me. I pray that you are mine and I am Yours. Thank you for rescuing me. I pray that I am yours forever. Thank you for saving me, remaking me. Thank you for changing me. Thank you for loving me too much to leave me as I am. Thank you for healing my heart. Thank you for being the well that never runs dry. Thank you for allowing me to come to you. Thank you for opening your arms for me. Thank you for leading me to you. Thank you for calling me home when I go astray. Thank you for sending people and signs to bring me back to you. Thank you for being deep enough for every soul. Thank you for speaking directly to me and to my life and to my heart. Thank you for never leaving or forsaking me. Thank you for showing me love despite my fear. 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.