It’s gon’ hurt, but don’t you slow down, get back up, cuz it’s a hard love.

Yesterday, I was talking to my friend about how we want immediate action and immediate results. We’re not good at that whole waiting patiently thing. Then as if on queue, the First 5 devotion was: Weakened faith makes us easy prey. I read this on the First 5 app: “There have been seasons of life where I have become disillusioned with God. When He wasn’t answering my prayers or ‘fixing’ my problems fast enough, I was seduced by the god of gotta-have-it-now.” Lord, I am weak. I am easy prey for fixing my problems the simple way, the instant fix, the temporary band aid. I am a big fan of pitty parties when things are not going my way or things aren’t fair or when I’ve been done wrong. I have a tendency to play the victim. It’s easy, especially with everything going on in the world, to give up because life isn’t fair. Because we got the short end of the stick. Because we were hurt. Giving up is easy. Getting back up is hard. Love is hard.

The second session of Stuck Study is titled: Mad. The session talks about how life isn’t fair and how frustrating that is. Then it tells a story of one woman’s reply: “You’re right. You don’t deserve this life. You deserve hell and death, and so do I. But God’s gracious love for us provided a Savior who took our sins and died for them. He didn’t deserve death, and we don’t deserve life. It is God’s grace that we have life at all.” Sometimes I need that reminder. I admit, too often I need that reminder.

In this session, we are called to surrender. To lay everything down so that we can be filled by You. I had a similar devotion in Mobile. We wrote down on pieces of paper what was holding us back from our relationship with You. Then we picked up these little wood crosses. We were told to paint them or whatever we wanted, but to use them as a reminder. Not of what we laid down, but of what we picked up instead. The part of message that I got differently today was trust. By laying everything down, I wasn’t just giving You control, I was trusting You to take care of what I laid down. I wasn’t just letting it go, I was giving it to You. Lord, sometimes You give us a piece of the puzzle at a time, to put together in Your timing.

The study said: “This love costs us something. It is not easy, but it is simple.” Then it states Luke 6:28-30 which says: Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To the one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. Ok, first off, this love and trust thing is hard for me. It’s a simple concept, but it’s hard to put into action. The whole bless and pray thing, I can do. I can totes pray for my enemies. I’ve been taught that my whole life. And my daddy always said if you let someone borrow something then just plan to give it to them. And my mama told me 1343 times that if someone takes something from you then they must have needed it more. So, that stuff I was prepared for. But not offering my other cheek after I’ve been hit. That one gets me. That one takes personal root and grabs on. That one is a tough pill to swallow. That one is gonna take some extra praying and teaching. Lord, that one I’m gonna need help with. That’s when trust comes into play.

The study teaches that if we put our trust in You, then that’s where freedom is found. That’s when we truly let go and surrender. That’s where peace comes. I’ve always heard Ephesians 4:26 which says: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. The part I haven’t heard, but read today is verse 27: and do not give the devil a foothold. Lord, I needed that reminder today.

So, here is my prayer today. I pray that I am humbled at your feet. I pray that I let go of my timing. I pray that I stop being so impatient. I pray that I put my trust in you. I pray that I put my faith in you. I pray that I remember you are God and I am not. I pray that I want more of you and less of me. I pray that I put action into your love. I pray that I give more, love more, pray more, bless more, surrender more, forgive more. Lord, help me to offer my other cheek. I pray that I show strength. I pray that I show intention. I pray that I let go of my need for things to be fair. I pray that I let go of what I think my rights are. I pray that I stop trying to defend myself and let you defend me. I pray that I am not so easily offended. I pray that I made stronger in you and in your love. I pray that I am slow to anger and slow to speak. I pray that I listen intently with love. I pray that I let me fade away. I pray that I hold on a little tighter to your love. I pray that I don’t let the devil have a foothold. I pray I keep finding you more and more. I pray for courage. I pray that I remember you are victorious no matter how weak I feel. 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 goodbye’s such a painful word, we all wish it didn’t hurt.

My sister woke me up this morning, way too early. Since I now had some time before the rest of the house woke up, I pulled up the First 5 app and started reading. The devotion was on Numbers 21:8 which says: The Lord said to Moses, Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live. I read the verse and I was like what am I reading? A snake? On the 4th of July? What are You trying to teach me Lord?

Then as if my mind could be read, the next line on the devotion is: “What do a snake and a stick have to do with healing?” Then it goes on to explain in beginning of Numbers 21 that Your people had begun questioning and doubting You. You had been protecting them and when You withdrew that protection, the snakes came out. And when bad things happen, the first thing we do is turn back to You. The devotion stated the very thing I’ve learned: “Healing required an act of faith.”

Then comes verse 8 of the story, with the instructions for Moses. The next line of the devotion is what got me praying today. “I find it fascinating the object of healing, the snake, was shaped in the likeness of that which poisoned.” The very thing we think is going to be the end of us is part of Your plan. The very thing we think is meant to hurt us is a part of Your grand design. The very thing that caused us pain can also be the tool used for healing.

I was listening the Jake Owen sing What We Ain’t Got, I’ve heard it 1242 times. But this time was different, at the end of the song he sang: “I wanted the world until my whole world stopped.” About two years ago, my whole world stopped for the first time and then it stopped a few more times that year. Sometimes it takes learning the hard way. Sometimes we have to lose everything, to be found. Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom, to move forward. Sometimes the very thing causing the pain, can be used by You. Sometimes You have to make us stop and look at the world around us. Sometimes we have to get the wind knocked out, so we can learn to breathe again. Sometimes rock bottom is exactly what we need to start a new foundation.

There is a quote by Oswald Chambers that says: “Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.” You can say that again. Sometimes, Lord, I have no idea what You are doing. Sometimes, I struggle trying to understand Your plan. But I’m not meant to understand it completely. You are working with a eternity plan for the whole world and I am working with a plan just for me. I do not understand Your plan or Your ways, but I understand You love us. I know in my heart that everything You do is for a greater purpose.

There is this picture on Pinterest of this man standing in front of a maze and he can only what is right in front of him, but Lord, You see the whole puzzle. There is also a quote that says: “If God showed you all He has planned for you, it would boggle your mind. If you could see the doors He’s going to open, the opportunities that will cross your path, and the people who will show up, you’d be amazed, excited, and passionate, it would be easy to set your mind for victory. This is what faith is all about. You got to believe it before you see it. God’s favor is surrounding you like a shield. Every setback is a setup for a comeback. Every bad break, every disappointment, and every person who does you wrong is part of the plan to get you where you’re supposed to be.” 

In Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl, Lysa Terkeurst wrote: “It would have been easy to see the events that unfolded as a series of lucky breaks. But what a tragedy to see only flat perspectives of life.” Then she quotes Psalm 53:2 which says: God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there is anyone who understands, Who seeks after God. 

So, this is my prayer. “Fill me with a grateful heart.” I pray that I seek you. I pray that I see your hand in everything. I pray that I have confidence and faith in you. I pray that while I don’t understand, I still believe. I pray that you keep changing my perspective. Lord, move me. Change my thoughts. Change my heart. Keep showing me your hand in my life. I pray that I keep chasing after you. I pray that I keep running towards you. Thank you for designing my life. Thank you for using me for your purpose. Thank you for choosing every part of my life. Thank you for the people I’ve met, the places I’ve been, the lessons I’ve learned, and for so much 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.

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.