Hearts open wide, hands lifted high.

I crave security, of all kinds. Financial, emotional, physical, spiritual, the whole kit and caboodle. It took me reading Sara Evan’s and Rachel Hauck’s The Sweet By & By to realize safety isn’t found in money or a place or another person. I’ve been looking for security in all the wrong ways. Lord, the only way I’m safe is in Your arms. I’ve always been safe with You.

The main character in the book is Jade Freedom Fitzgerald. Jade’s middle name was what she needed most. Maybe I’m the same way. I always thought my middle name was Faith because that’s what my parents needed to have me, but I’m learning maybe it’s what I need most.

When Jade was at her wit’s end, they wrote: “When safe places turned off their cell phones. When safe places ran off with musicians. When safe places moved to Washington, D.C., and never looked back. When safe places chose a sport where men wrestle men instead of loving her.” She was looking for her safe place in the people she loved: her fiance, her mom, her dad, her first love. She didn’t find ultimate and eternal safety until she was sitting alone on a bench swing faced with nothing but the truth. In one of the flashbacks, Jade asked: “If true love doesn’t last, and hearts can be broken over and over, what’s the point? Was Jesus for her?” You had been knocking on her heart and edging her closer and closer to the truth. All she had to do, was finally listen. Later they wrote: “The encounter with Jesus didn’t remove all of Jade’s obstacles. Liking Mama might not happen overnight, but being free compelled her to love. And that had to be a real fine place to start.” (Not gonna lie, when I read that I sang that last line because that’s lyrics from Sara’s song.) Lord, being a Christian and following You certainly doesn’t take all the pain away and it’s some magic cure-all pill that solves all our problems. Following You, gives us perspective. Following You, gives us options and choices. We have the freedom to choose You, to choose love, to choose light, to choose peace. I don’t have to be controlled or trapped by sin, I have a way out. I have choices and I can choose to live with purpose. I can hear Jennifer Nettles in my head singing: “we don’t have to live this way.” 

In the book, they wrote about Harlan (Jade’s dad): “Man was not basically good. There was reality called sin. The world needs redemption. He himself needed redemption. Perhaps Jesus was the only true escape. In his twenty years in Washington, he’d seen what man could do. Dark, evil, selfish. Fed up, Harlan was curious to see what God could do.” Lord, I was taught growing up about the miracles You’ve done. As I grew up, I’ve seen what You can do with my own eyes. Lord, it’s time my heart listens to what my head already knows.

So, this is my prayer today. Lord, forgive for searching so long what you had already given me. Lord, I pray I’m figurin’ out what love really means. I pray givin’ you my heart, is a real fine place to start. I pray you keep callin’. I pray that I know you are stronger than any fear or doubt. Lord, you are changin’ everything I see. I pray that it’s changin’ me. I pray that I never stop looking to see what all you’re doing. I pray I’m always looking for your miracles around me. I pray that I am listening when you’re speaking to my heart. I pray that I am compelled to love. I pray that I take every advantage of your way out of sin. I pray that I remember you gave me options. I pray that I remember you gave me freedom. I pray that I know deep in my heart that I do not have to live that way and I can choose you. I pray that I know you are for me. I pray that I know you are my safe place. I pray that every fiber of my being knows that you will never run away, you’re forever mine, you’re by my side, you forever shine. I pray my life verse keeps changing my heart this month and long after. I pray you keep teaching me that verse. I pray that I apply it to my life. I pray that I trust in your unfailing love. I pray my heart rejoices in your salvation. 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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Carols comin’ through the radio.

Ok, let’s go ahead and address it. I am still listening to Christmas music. Yes, I am. I even ordered more music after Christmas. Jennifer Nettles has been on repeat for a while now and it’s Chris Young’s turn. I decided I was taking those tidings of comfort and joy into the new year with me and I haven’t let them go.

Ok, now that we got that out of the way, let’s recap the last few days on the 30-Day Challenge for Single Christian Women. Day 4 was taking a selfie-done. Day 5 was joining a bible study-done. Day 6 was dreaming big. This is where I get into trouble. My 10-year plan consisted of:

  1. Graduating college in May 2015-nope.
  2. Getting married on August 20, 2016-nope.
  3. Starting a family two years later-well there’s still time, but it’s not looking likely.
  4. Running a community service organization (preferably for the military, foster kids, or adoptions.)-keeping my fingers crossed on this one!

This is where Day 7 comes into play, which is writing a letter to You, Lord about my hurts, what I’ve learned, and what I like about being single. What I’ve learned is easy: to trust You when my plan fails. What I like is growing in my walk with You and growing as a person. The hurts, I thought was going to be hard to name, because through this challenge, I have felt so blessed. I could handle the never been kissed jokes in middle school, the virgin ones in high school, and the cat/dog lady jokes in college. I am still all of those things, and I can handle the jokes. I can handle my plan not working out or not meeting my timelines. What I can’t handle is the lonely feeling. I moved out of my family home for six years. I have lived alone and with roommates. Now, I’m back with my family and as much as I would loveeeeee my own space, my own kitchen, my own bathroom, a walk-in closet, and maybe some built-in bookcases one day in a house of my own. I cannot live alone again.

I was listening to Chris Young sing Under the Weather tonight and realized that’s what I want. I want someone to bear the weather with. When it’s cold out, I want us to cuddle under blankets watching Christmas movies and drinking hot chocolate. When it’s hot out, I want to roll the windows down and sing country music with him all the way to the lake. When it’s raining, I want him to remind me of Your promises. I want him to teach the kids the same thing my mama taught me about the rain. That it rains when somebody goes to Heaven, and storms are You throwing a party because one more came home. There is a reason for every season. I just want someone to go through the storms and sunshine with.

Day 8 was making time for family. With the “Alabama snow storm” keeping my entire family home all weekend, there was plenty of time for that. All we had was ice, but it was totally worth the six hour game of monopoly we played. I won, of course. Dad made lots of soup too. Day 9 was trying something new. I’m still working on that one, but Day 10 is girl’s night out. My sister, Mom, and I are all going to get dinner and a movie. We’re all pretty excited!

So, here is my prayer. I pray that I remember my life verse from Day 1. I pray that whether I’m standing alone in the rain, I’m driving on ice, or I’m sitting in the sunshine that I think of your unfailing love and rejoice in your salvation. Lord, I pray that I never forget how blessed I am. This challenge has helped me count all my blessings and they are in abundance. And Lord, I have learned how to be content in any situation and any circumstance, no matter how badly my plans fail. Lord, what I’m asking for now is to thrive. I want to do more than just survive. I pray that I find a love so deep that it’s clear to everyone that you were in control. I pray that I succeed and work hard in all I do so that your name is shining bright for all to see. I pray that every breath I take I breathe in and out in your name. I pray that no matter the weather, I praise you. I pray that your love keeps surrounding me. I pray that I sink into your unfailing 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.