Slow, like a Sunday morning service back home.

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

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

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

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

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

So, here is my prayer. I pray that I remember that my daddy told me the tongue is the window to the soul and Proverbs 13:3 says: The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. I pray that I remember all the good my parents taught me and I remember the girl they raised me to be. I pray that I remember to watch my words and watch my life. I pray that I give love and grace and compassion. I pray that I speak life, your life sustaining words. I pray that I don’t shy from the truth. I pray that I continue to see your work in the world around me. I pray the more I open my eyes, the more I see you. I pray your love shines out of this soft heart of mine. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for bearing it all. Thank you for defeating even death. Thank you for all I’ve learned, all I’ve been given, and all I’ve lost. Thank you for sustaining this soft heart through it all. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I’m trying to hear above the noise.

I am a big fan of Jo Dee Messina. I grew up watching her videos on CMT ever single morning when I got ready for school. She posted a video today of her cover of Plumb’s song Need You Now. In the opening of the video, she talks about her struggle with her mom getting sick. Then she said: “I am my mother’s daughter, but first I am a child of God.” but first I am a child of God. Yes. I am. Before my grief. Before my pain. Before all the darkness. I am a child of God.

I’ve spent this year reading the words of Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl over and over and trying to apply it to my life. Anyone who knows me knows I hate rereading books. This book is different. Every time I read Lysa’s words, I see something different and I want to carve an even deeper relationship with You, Lord.

She wrote: “But other times the hurt comes in the form of a loss that cuts into your heart so viciously it forever redefines who you are and how you think. It’s what I call deep grief. The kind that strains against everything you’ve ever believed.” Well it certainly changed my prayer life and my perspective. The more I wanted to pull away, the more You pulled me closer. She continued by saying: “I was asking the wrong question. I was asking why. Why did this happen? Why didn’t You stop this, God? Why were my prayers not answered? Why?” Lord, You and I both know, I asked these questions and some. I couldn’t understand why my grandma had to suffer or why Christopher had to leave us so early. I had never lost anyone and then I lost two very important people within three months of each other. I couldn’t even process one before another one was gone. Why, was a constant question in my life.

Lysa wrote: “And His reasons, from our limited perspective would always fall short. That’s because our flat human perceptions simply can’t process God’s multidimensional, external reasons. God describes it this way: ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’ (Isaiah 55:8-9). We can’t see the full scope of the situation like God can; therefore we must acknowledge that His thoughts are more complete and that He is more capable of accurately discerning what is best in every circumstance. In the case of losing a loved one, love skews even the most rational parts of us. Our love for the person we lost would never allow God’s reasons to make us feel any better or to understand any more fully. We would still feel as though God had made a terrible mistake. So, if asking the why question doesn’t offer hope, what will? The what question. In other words: Now that this has happened, what am I supposed to do with it?” 

That question is something I very much I want to answer. They weren’t perfect people. Those two knew just how to push my buttons and make me madder than a Hatter, but I want them to know I learned something from loving them. In more ways than one, they helped me pray over the past year and a half. They’ve been a daily reminder that I need You.

Further into the book, Lysa wrote: “I know that He is preparing me for what I will need throughout this day. He is already standing in every minute of my day and He sees what I will face. He’s equipping me to be able to handle what is ahead of me with His gentle boldness, quiet strength, and loving grace.” Later she adds: “Some things are fun and good; others are extremely difficult and painful. Somehow Jesus has used it all.” Then she continues by saying: “Jesus can take everything surrendered to Him and turn it around for good. Everything.”

So, that is my prayer today. Lord, I have thanked you for a lot of things over the past twenty-three years, but I have never thanked you for this. Thank you for preparing me. Thank you for giving me the courage I needed. Thank you for your gentle boldness, your quiet strength, and your loving grace. I pray that I continue to ask the what question. I pray that I continue to fall on my knees in need of you. I pray that I keep seeking you. Thank you for taking my grief and loss and using it for your good. Thank you for taking my pain and using it for your good. Thank you for teaching me and leading me. Thank you for your hand on my life. Thank you for loving me even through all the broken pieces and cracks. Lord, I am trying to follow you and listen to you. I am trying to actively seek you in my daily routine. Through everything that has happened, the more I realize how desperately I need you. I am so thankful you never left me, no matter how far I ran or pushed you away. Thank you for having open arms for 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.