I’m on my way to Heaven, would you like to come along?

I didn’t know where to begin this one. I didn’t know how to start or even where to start. A friend of mine shared their story with me so I wanted to honor that trust by bringing it to the very person who wrote my story, Lord, You. Father, I think the very least I can do is to trust You. A sweet preacher in Chelsea, AL taught us, a few Sundays ago, that: “no one can sing my song but me.” He said: “you are a somebody because He knows your name, He knows your song.” 

Ok, so here goes nothing. Or everything…

I was sexually abused by more than one person, in more than one way.

All before I even started high school. I wanted to pretend this wasn’t real. Sometimes, it still doesn’t feel real. I almost convinced myself that the nightmares, were just nightmares. I started the healing process through counseling. I started to see things more clearly. Some of the symptoms that I had just chalked up to normal life were actually signs of PTSD and Disassociation. I got wayyy more signs of disassociation than I would like to admit. Ya girl got issues.

But You, my God, are so patient. so kind. so loving. You were there through it all. The more I have gotten to know You, the more I can see You through all of it.

My favorite verse is Isaiah 43:2 which says: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. If left to my own devices, I would be drowned, consumed, overwhelmed, and burned. I would have never made it through the second grade. But my God, that is the exact year I got saved. That is the exact year, I walked down that church aisle, asking You to save me. I always forget the first verse which says: But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. Lord, not only did You create me and form me. You redeemed me. You call me by name. When Satan calls me by my sin, You call me by my name! I am free from the wrath by the power of the blood. I saved this picture on my phone that says: “I survived because the fire inside me burned brighter than the fire around me.”

I started the Redeemed study by Angela Thomas-Pharr. In the first part, she asks us to fill in the blank for: “I’ve given up trying…” I finished it with: “to walk like this.” I am not carrying this baggage anymore. I am unloading these suitcases. I am not carrying this weight with me any longer. This guilt. This shame. This pride. This need for control. This darkness. I let everyone else in my life set the boundaries, so then I put up walls in response to my boundaries being crossed. What I should have been doing is letting You, Lord, set up my perimeters and focused on You. Because when I have my eyes on You, I’m walking on water. When I focus on everything around me, I’m sinking. Lord, I crave the light because there is a darkness in me, darker than even I know. In those broken places, is the exact places that the light gets in. In those broken places, is the exact places that we can help someone else. The exact place that I can chose to share Your glory.

When I lost my friend, I asked You a lot of why questions. Through Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa Terkheurst, I realized that was the wrong question. The right question is: what am I gonna do with what I have been given, what I have left? In the Redeemed study, I am learning to ask: who You are and what You’ve said. In Unwrap the Bible, Beth Moore said: “God is going to use one question to lead to blessings in another question.” 

I have this question written in my journal that says: how do you design something, knowing it’ll fail? Lord, You created me, You designed every hair on my head. You knew I would fail before I even took my first breath. But I think that is the point. I think that right there is redemption. When I am broken way beyond repair. When I fall to my knees. That right there is exactly where I need to be. Because right there is exactly where You fix me. Because right there is exactly where I see You work.

Steven Furtick said: “whether we know it or not, we are passing on our perspective to those we influence. And whatever is not healed is handed down. I can’t chose what I’m handed but I can choose what I hand back.” In The Gospel of Mark, Lisa Harper told us that: “Jesus knows exactly where you are. Jesus knows how heart-broken you are, He’s been there. He’s been segregated and alone in the wilderness, facing wild beasts. He knows exactly where you hurt.” Lisa said we don’t have to clean ourselves up to come to You. But my God, You love us too much to leave us that way. You meet us there and cover us.

I have always been a very organized planner. I have my five year plan but I also have a ten year plan and a fifteen year plan. I have certainly changed my plans over the years. 1st grade me wanted to serve You and be a missionary. Best believe, I had a plan for it too. As I got older, I wanted to be a teacher. In middle school, ya girl watched Legally Blonde and got a little power hungry. Ya girl wanted to be a lawyer then a judge then swoop right into the supreme court. In high school, I came back around to teaching. In college, I switched majors to Communications. Now I’ve gone and started grad school in human services counseling in christian ministries.

I tend to get overly excited and put my cart before my horse. But no where, on any of my plans, was any of the bad stuff. Ok. I planned perfect fairy tales with only enough realism approved by yours truly. The only thing that has remained a constant is my want to serve You in whatever capacity I could find. Lysa Terkheurst said: “remember this: God is working things out. He is present. His plan is still good and He can still be trusted. I used to think that being in ministry made me more of a target for the enemy’s attacks. But now I think God saw the attacks coming and made sure I was in ministry. Having my heart and mind constantly focused on God’s Truths has changed the way I see and process everything.”

So, here is my prayer today. I pray that I lead with kindness and grace. I pray that I am showing others who you are. I pray that I am showing others what you do. I pray that I am showing others when to lean on you. I pray that I am showing others where you’re leading. I pray that I am showing others why I chose to walk with you. I pray that I am showing others how to follow you. I pray that every word in my story point to you. Father, even when I am not present, you are. Father, even when my plans are no good at all, you are. Father, even when I fail miserably, you can still be trusted. Kelly Minter said: “who Jesus has called you to be is the most exciting and liberating identity you can have.” Abba, thank you for reminding me that my identity is found in you. Thank you for reminding me that my identity is not what happened to me, what I’ve lost, or even what I’ve done. Hanna Brencher said: “one day you’ll be out of this. And all the things you felt-all the places you went in the dark-will help someone come out of the woods too.” Lord, open my eyes to the needs of those around me. Niki Rowe wrote: “like a wild flower; she spent her days, allowing herself to grow, not many knew of her struggle, but eventually all; knew of her light.” I pray that everyone around me sees your light in me. Lord, I chose you. I chose grace over wrath. I chose life over death. I chose light over dark. I chose trust over fear. I chose your plan over mine. 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 You met me in the fire.

I’m finishing Max Lucado’s Before Amen. And boyyyyy did I need chapter 8. Max made a list of everything he’s thankful for. He wrote: “Gratitude is a dialysis of sorts. It flushes the self-pity out of our systems.” That is exactly what I needed today.

For the past few weeks, things have not been exactly going my way. You are still good has become my daily prayer. I knew it was true, but sometimes it is hard to believe, especially when things are uncertain and confusing. I thought my last semester was going to tie a pretty little bow on all my hard work. Of course, I was completely wrong. This semester has not been easy, but it’s still been good. This is not at all the way I thought my plan was going to be working out. My ten-year plan had me graduated last year, starting a fabulous career immediately following graduation, and getting married this August. We both know that was never Your plan, Lord and I’ve had a littleeeee bit of a hard time accepting that. (When I say a little, I might be down playing some of my…ummm resentment.)

Towards the end of the book, Max says to note what pulls me towards prayer and what pushes me away from prayer. Knowing what pulls me to prayer is easy. It is slowing down everything. It’s a song on the radio and the words were exactly right. It’s a line in a movie or a TV show that makes me see something new. It’s a small gesture of love from a friend. It’s the trees lined up along the road on the way to my apartment. It’s seeing You, everywhere I go and in everyone I meet. It’s seeing Your hand in the world around me. What pushes me away from prayer is a little harder for me to pinpoint because it’s a slow fade and sometimes I don’t even notice how far from You, I’ve become. It’s the busyness like Max said. It’s my fear I let get in the way. It’s my selfishness. It’s my lack of understanding. It’s my need for a plan and control. It’s prayers that are left unanswered or answers I didn’t want or simply understand.

Max wrote about a time that he tried to take control and made a mess of things. Then he wrote: “Why was it hard to trust God in that situation?” Psalm 46:10 says, ‘Be still and know that I am God’ Take a moment to be still. Meditate on God’s goodness and power by reading Psalm 19.” Then he says: “Ask God to let this truth bring peace to your heart.”

Peace is exactly what I’ve been asking for. So, as I’m reading Psalm 19, I make my list of things I’m thankful for:

  • America.
  • Bubbles, Bath tubs, and Books.
  • Christmas.
  • my college Degree.
  • English classes that taught me how to write.
  • best friends Forever and one day a Forever and always love.
  • Grace that I need far too often.
  • Heaven. A friend of mine posted on the anniversary of the day that he went to Your Home, she wrote: “Although Christopher is gone from this physical world, he is standing in front of the Father in complete worship – and that is #goals.” The other day on the radio, one of the guys from Mercy Me was talking about their song, Finally Home. The song is about his father who went to Home and he said it was like the final chapter to I can only imagine. What struck me right to the core was he said he didn’t think his father was watching over him because he had better things to do like worshiping You, Lord. I was in complete awe. Lord, thank you so much for Heaven and for Your promises and for allowing us to worship You.
  • Ice in my coke.
  • Juggling schedules.
  • Kind words.
  • Lunches with good friends.
  • Music, especially in the car.
  • New things to get me out of my comfort zone.
  • Oranges that I used to hate and now love.
  • People and Puppies and Prayer.
  • Quirks, which I have plenty of.
  • Red lights to make you slow down and stop every once in a while and appreciate the world around you and make you remember to let others have a turn.
  • Safety because I crave it and it took me making this list to realize that I already found the ultimate security in You. Psalm 19:6 says: It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.

    nothing is deprived of its warmth. 

“I’m reckless, and senseless, I’ve jumped off the fences, abandon all the rules, and crashed like a fool, out of control, so criminal, You could have let me drown, but You reached Your hand out.”

  • Tests and Trials to make me stronger.
  • the Universe You created.
  • Violins.
  • Walks with friends, which was also Max’s and it reminded me of the walk during Spring Break that my person and I took on the beach. I’m pretty sure we walked from Gulf Shores to Dauphin Island and back. She asked me to be her maid of honor on that walk. I am so thankful for that walk.
  • X-rays.
  • my Youth and all I’ve learned along the way.
  • Zoo’s.

So, that is my prayer today. Thank you a million times for a million different things. Thank you for everything I’ve listed and soooo much more. I could never even begin to thank you enough. Lord, my Rock, my Redeemer, my Father, my Everything. I am in awe of you and all you’ve done. You created this beautiful, confusing, inspiring, beyond comprehension universe. You created the Heavens and the Earth. You created everything around me from the people to the trees to the lakes and oceans and everything in-between. I do not say it nearly enough, so thank you. Your ways are not my ways and your plans are not my plans. Thank you for that because yours are so much greater. Thank you painting an eternal picture instead of my 5 year outlook. Thank you for leading me. Thank you for guiding me. Thank you for showing me. Thank you for unanswered prayers. And thank you for the answers I wasn’t looking for and for the answers I didn’t understand and for the answers I wasn’t expecting. Thank you for loving me even when I’m reckless. 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 can only imagine.

The new coke ad is #makeithappy. I could not be more in love with that! “Change your thoughts. Change the world.” Without You, we are broken. We are hurt. We are hate. We are selfish. We are lonely. We are guilty. We blame others. We are lost. With You, all that changes. We are healed. We are love. We are kind and giving. We are generous. We are found. We are forgiven and free. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. When we let You guide our lives, we are changed. Your grace show us more than we could dream of. Your grace washes our sin away. You make us new.

The only way to Heaven is through You. We admit that we are sinners and that You are God. We do not get there by being a good person or earning our way. It is not by our hands, but by Yours. When we make that decision, it changes our hearts. We should want to help our neighbor. We should want to read Your word. We should want to love more. We should want all that and more because You showed us all that we could have. You showed us Heaven and how could not want to share that? How could we see all that You’ve given us and not want to show others? How could we be that loved and not love too? It doesn’t take good deeds to get to Heaven, but we should want to do good deeds so that others can see You and find their place in Heaven. Ephesians 4:29 says: Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

1 Corinthians 2:9 says: But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

We are not perfect and we will continue to stumble, but You have already forgiven us. I can hardly even fathom the kind of love You have for us. Your love is completely free and unconditional. You love us even though we nailed You to a cross for sins we committed. I saw on pinterest this quote that said: “Jesus died for you, knowing you might never love Him back. That is true love.” I can’t even process that kind of selfless love. Psalm 103:2 says: Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.

So, that is my prayer. I pray that because I’m forgiven I try to be more like you. I pray that because I’m forgiven I share your love. I pray that I share kindness. I pray that I am more careful of my words. I pray that I continue to praise you. I pray that I continue to see your love. I pray that you keep guiding me. Thank you for teaching me. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for your love. Thank you for the cross. I don’t deserve any of it so, thank you for being a forgiving God. Thank you for loving me unconditionally and freely. 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.