So breathe, oh breath of God, Now breathe.

In children’s church, we’re doing The Gospel Project. Today we finished our Prophets and Kings books. In the last four weeks, our big picture question has been: “Why should we obey God? We obey God because He loves us.” The last few weeks got so deep in my soul. I can’t even begin to explain it.

In the leader bible study, the book shares a quote from Ravi Zacharias which says: “Jesus did not come into this world to make bad people good. He came into this world to make dead people alive.” Ohhhhh, how I got the chills.

The last story in the book is in Ezekiel 37. The story said: “In one vision, God led Ezekiel through a valley filled with old, dry bones. God asked Ezekiel, ‘Can these bones come to life?’ Ezekiel replied, ‘Lord God, only You know the answer to that question.'” Ohhhhh, Lord. Ezekiel’s response got me good. I got a never ending list of questions that end with that response. Lord, I do not understand this world or anything in it, as a matter of fact. Lord, sometimes I’m so lost, I can’t even find myself. But ohhhhh how You’ve got me. You know exactly where I am and exactly where I’ve been hiding. You see that deep valley. You see my old, dry bones. You told Ezekiel to tell those bones that You said to breathe and come to life. Those bones came together: “bones to bones, tendons to bones, flesh over bones, skin over flesh.” Then breath entered the bones. Lord, You take our sin filled lives and our dry bones and literally breathe life into us.

We asked some questions at the end of the story and one kid was answering. He said something along the lines of belief didn’t matter because we still go home sinnin, that we ain’t going to Heaven still sinnin. This right here is where a lot of people get confused. I stood up out my chair and walked right to the middle of the room and said no, no, no, no, hang on, wait a minute. Then I pointed at that Bible verse we’ve been working on the last four weeks: Ezekiel 11:19-20, which says: And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, so they may follow My statutes, keep My ordinances, and practice them. Then they will be My people, and I will be their God. I explained that we don’t get to Heaven because of the good we do because we would never be able to do enough to earn Heaven and pay for all our selfishness and greed and sin. He get Heaven because we believe and because we believe we get that new heart. We no longer have those hearts of stone, we are dry bones no more. We obey because You love us. We have a new spirit within us. We have been changed. We do good because of that belief. We ain’t livin for us anymore, we’re living for You.

Lauren Daigle has a song about this very story. She and Michael Farren explained in a interview she wanted the song to be about those prodigals that went away for whatever reason and specifically for the people praying for You to bring them back home. Michael pointed out the next verse after Ezekiel’s response of “only You know.” Verse 4 says: He said to me, “Prophesy concerning these bones and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Michael said that invites us in and there is an action required. Lord, we are Your hands and feet. We not only have to leave behind our old lives and our dry bones. We have to use that new heart and we have to get moving, That army of dry bones rises when we speak Your words.

So, here is my prayer today. Lord, breathe in my dry bones. Lord, I know that I don’t have to clean myself up to come to you and I know that you love me too much to leave me that way. Lord, sometimes, I’m so far into my mess that I don’t even realize I’m in the valley. Lord, help me to look for those ways out that you provide. Lord, I pray that I keep moving. I pray that I remember I do have your breath in my dry bones. I pray I remember I have a new heart and a new spirit. I do not have to live that way anymore. I do not have to stay lost and defeated in that valley. Father, I pray that I take that new heart and put it to work. I pray that I get moving. I pray that I take that invitation and pick up my cross. I pray that I go tell that army about your words. I pray that I stop living for me and start living for you. 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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My life surrendered, my heart abandoned for more of You.

Part of me struggles with leading people to You because some days I can’t even get my own life to fly right so how can I help anyone else? But last year I sat through a sermon where the preacher said: “cleaning your heart will clean all parts of your life.” He quoted 2 Timothy 2:20-26 where he told us we were vessels to be made useful for the Master. He told us that You want to use us, we just need to get the dirt out of our hearts.

He broke down the verses and gave us the three main points:

1. to be strong and flee from youthful desires. Well we are calling me out already. My heart is convicted right there. I can hear Jo Dee Messina singing: “I’ve got pride, I’m takin’ it for a ride.” I can be real immature and real selfish. I forget there is this whole world around me. Lord, without You, I can mess things up six ways to Sunday.

2. to be committed to righteousness, faith, love, and peace. That righteousness word always intimidated me. Like how in the world do I accomplish that? The funny thing is that I make that one so complicated, but if I just commit to the other three, then righteousness falls right into place. They all go hand in hand.

3. to be consistent. Next to that I have written: humble and gentle. Okkk, we finally got something I know how to do. I’m gentle. Okk, so if I’m being honest, I need to work on the humility aspect. Then in parenthesis it says to create a habit of not fighting and fussing. Alrightttttyyyy then. I literally wrote on that church bulletin: “no foolish arguments.” Like I knew that one was gonna be a bitter pill to swallow and I would need to remind myself of that one a time or two.

Lord, I am far from perfect and some days, I find it completely terrifying that You have called me. But then I remember the sweet words of a girl in Bible study one time. She said: “I like Christ in myself.” Lord, I can list a million reasons why I shouldn’t be called, but You never called the qualified. You take my broken pieces and make them whole, that’s why I’m called. Because You are working in me and I can share that progress with others. Just like when I shared my report card to my parents as a kid, I can share what You are doing in me. And Lord, You are changing my heart more and more every day.

Beth Moore taught me that I am not responsible for being Christ to my people. She said that is not my responsibility. She said: “We are not Christ to them. We need to move it and let God do His job.” Lord, I have trouble remembering to get out of Your way. I have to remember that it is You in me that I like. I am not You. I cannot do what You do. You are my God. You are the King of the world. You are the Risen Savior. Lord, You are challenging my little bitty perspective and I want to be used for Your glory, not my own. I am nothing without You. I like You in me.

Lord, someone described it like this: You are the Gardener and I am the planter. I just plant the seeds that You give me. Someone else comes along to water the seeds. Someone else fertilizes the soil. We never know the impact we’re making because we’re just planting seeds, but You have this grand designed plan that connects every little thing. David Ring said: “If you don’t do your job, no one else can do theirs. It takes a whole team, it takes everybody.” He said: “I could never be the quarterback, but I can help somebody else be a quarterback.” He taught us to create a ministry of encouragement. He told us to make ourselves more available to You. He asked us if we were doing all we could do with all we have or could we do more. Lord, today I want to make myself available to You. I want to plant Your seeds.

So here is my prayer today. Lord, I wanna close to you. I pray that I make myself available to you. I pray that I keep planting seeds. I pray that I remember to that you are God. I pray that I remember to let you work. I pray that you use me and move me. I pray that I am a team builder and a team player. I pray that I help create a ministry of encouragement to those around me. I pray that I am strong. I pray that I am committed. I pray that I am consistent. I pray that I find my worth in you. I pray that I invite you into every hidden place, in every dark place, in every crevice of my existence. I pray that I like you in me. I pray that I am found in your presence. I pray that my only focus is to worship you. I pray that I am bound to you. I pray that my sole devotion is to you. I pray that clean out my heart. I pray that I work on removing all the dust, debris, dirt, filth, and darkness. I pray that your light shines a light into my heart and fills all the broken places. I pray that I have eyes to see that you are all I need. I pray I seek you in your fullness. 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 will fall if you come around.

This morning when I was getting ready, Dolly Parton stated singing Jolene on my playlist. I immediately turned it up and started jamming out.  But I’ve never really related to the lyrics. She’s asking this woman not to swoop in and steal her man. What I don’t understand is why you’re trying to keep a man that is so easily taken? Like if a man doesn’t want to be kept, he’s not going to stay. I’ve had a real hard time accepting that fact so maybe that’s how I relate to the song. Because I tend to fall for the ones who are never going to like and definitely not love me. I fight so hard for the ones who don’t want me or maybe they do, just not in the way I need them too.

I’m just gonna be honest. I don’t know if the problem is the guy for saying all these nice things and not meaning them or me for knowing they don’t mean it and for believing in every word anyways. “You’d make a good wife some day. You’re my heart. You’re the love of my life.” I don’t know if it’s because I got comfortable hearing those words so much that I actually started to believe them or if it’s because I prayed so hard for a man of intention, that this is just the devil coming after me with the complete opposite of intention. I mean, I knew when one of them said “We’d make pretty babies,” that it was a joke. But like I want kids and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to have them for several reasons. And I read once that 10% of women struggle getting pregnant. So like, it’s not really funny and my fears are completely valid, but he doesn’t know my fears or struggles, so is it even fair to get upset? I don’t even know how to stand up for myself, because it was just a joke and besides I’m waiting for marriage and apparently that is a joke, in and of itself. It’s not even just one guy. It’s every one I’ve ever liked. Like they say these things, but then ask another girl out. Or one minute they say these things, but then they try to set me up with someone else. It’s a never ending roller coaster, and to be frank, I just want off. It’s not fun anymore and maybe it never was.

I guess, Lord, the point I’m trying to make is the more I pray for intention, the less I get it. The more I let fear creep in. The more I trust less. The more confused and hurt and misled I become. The whole point of praying for intention was the opposite. I feel completely vulnerable. I’m pretty sure that if someone promised to buy me the moon, I would believe them right now. I feel weak.

So, here is my prayer today. I don’t know what to pray for. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to stand up for myself. I don’t know how to differentiate fact from fiction and the lies from the truth. I don’t know where to go or what to do from here. So, I’m helplessly, defenselessly, praying for strength. I’m praying for Proverbs 31:25-26 which says: Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future.She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. I pray that I am no longer susceptible to the lies and jokes. I pray I learn to handle these things with grace. I’m lifting my arms up to you and I’m making Lauren Daigle’s song my prayer today. I pray that I put my trust in you. I pray that I let go of my dreams and that I lay them down. My hands are weary. I need your rest. Lord, I need you. I’m in complete surrender. You are my strength and comfort. You are my steady hand. You are my firm foundation. The Rock on which I stand. Your ways are always higher. Your plans are always good. There’s not a place where I’ll go, you’ve not already stood. When you don’t move the mountains, I’m needing you to move. When you don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through, When you don’t give the answers. As I cry out to you I will trust, I will trust. I will trust in you. I will trust in you. I will trust in you. I will trust in you. Lord, this isn’t just about a few guys telling me things I want to believe, this is about my whole life. This is about everything. Lord, I trust in you. 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 wanna seek You first.

Yet again Lysa Terkeurst’s understood what I was going through. On the radio this morning, I heard her speak about being “the hurried woman.” The kind of woman who is running around and making sure everything is done on her to do list. I related to this more than I care to admit. Then she literally talked about going grocery shopping and how the hurried woman runs in with her list and is so busy with her own life that she doesn’t share You with the sales clerk or anyone in the store. I’m a Martha type of woman. I’m the one cleaning the house and preparing everything and making sure everything is perfect. I like my lists. I like having back up plans and I like being prepared.

Life has things I’m not ready for though, no matter how much I plan. My person got me this book for Christmas called The One Year Book Of Bible Promises. Each day is a verse and discussion of that verse. To be honest, I got behind in my reading. Part of being that “hurried woman” is not taking enough time to spend with You. Today, I went to catch up and started with June 13, the day of my person’s wedding. I thought it was cute that the verse was in Matthew since she was marrying Matthew! So, Matthew 6:33 says: Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. The discussion then talks about this verse being the principle for overcoming worry. Then towards the end of the discussion it says: “What are you in need of? Food? Clothing? A place to live? A decent job? A drivable car? You can trust God to provide for your needs.” Excuse me? Did that thing just say a drivable car? That’s cute. Ok, God, You have my attention. I have been preparing for this day  and I have an emergency kit packed for just about anything thanks to help from Pinterest. However, I did not plan for my car battery to die last Saturday. Especiallyyy not during my person’s wedding ceremony when I still had to drive to the reception. You wanna talk about worry? I was about five seconds from a panic attack, but I didn’t have one. You had me. You never left me. You surrounded me with Your love. After the reception was over, my phone was as dead as my car battery. Because when something is wrong, what do I do? Call Daddy. That worry started flooding in again. Still You had me. I was ok. Still You never left me.

In Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl, Lysa Terkeurst wrote: “The more we make a habit of applying God’s Word to our lives, the more it becomes a part of our nature, our natural way of acting and reacting. Knowing God’s Word and doing what it says not only saves us from heartbreak and trouble, it also brings more satisfaction to our souls than anything else ever could. Think about that for just a minute. Aren’t security and satisfaction what many people spend their every waking minute pursuing? Yet, the world’s answers are temporary facades that disappoint every time. Not just sometimes, every time.” Then she goes on to say: “I can delight in the fact that the things that make me feel weak only serve to make me a stronger, more capable person.” 

Ok, so, maybe my car battery needing to be replaced wasn’t the end of the world. I probably should have remembered that it had been 4 years since I got a new one and been prepared. The car battery is not really the important part. You are. I am learning to seek You first. I am learning to lean on You. I am learning to trust You. Replacing the car battery is a temporary fix. I will have to replace it again in a few years. Knowing Your word, though, that is an eternal fix. That changes me. That moves me. That becomes a part of me. That shapes me.

So, this is my prayer today. I pray that I seek you first. I pray that I find you more. I pray that I keep you first. I pray that I act more like you. I pray that I react with your love. I pray that I get to know your word more. I pray that I make more time to spend with you and in your word. I pray for the hurried woman inside of me and all of the rest of the hurried women. I pray that we slow down. I pray that we see you more and share you more with others. I pray that I remember Matthew 6:33. I pray that I apply that verse to my life. I pray that I take Lauren Daigle’s song with me. Lord, thank you for reminding me that you are always with me. Thank you for providing for me. Thank you for taking care of 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.

Oh the grace reaching out for me.

I have been waiting to see Old Fashioned for months and on Valentine’s Day, I finally saw it! Honestly, I’ve been waiting to see it my whole life. It was exactly the kind of love story I’ve always wanted! I want that level of respect. The movie floored me. I was completely covered in tears by the end of it.

I’ve always been told that I’m crazy or weird. I’ve been told I have my head in the clouds I’ve been told that my belief in fairy tales will just leave me with standards too high. I’ve been told my whole life that love like that doesn’t exist. Which usually makes me think of Easton Corbin singing:

“Love don’t have to be a bunch of drama
A bunch of knock-down, drag-outs, crying in the rain”

Clay and Amber’s love story was centered around Your love. It started with the best of intentions and grew from there. I want that. I have dreamed of that kind of security and safety. I want doors opened. I want my hand held and my cheek kissed. I dreamed of that kind of care. I dreamed of that level of kindness. I dreamed of that 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 kind of love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

It’s not that because I’m a girl so I’m weak and can’t open my own door. It’s not that I’m a dainty flower that can’t be hurt. It’s not that I think I need to be put on some kind of pedestal. It’s that someone loves me enough to cherish me. It’s that vulnerability of someone knowing me so well that they know exactly how to hurt me the most and making a conscious choice not to. It’s that someone wants to protect me. It’s that someone wants to make my needs a priority. It’s that someone wants to be gentle with my heart. It’s that someone wants to encourage me and support my dreams. It’s that someone wants me to feel safe and secure. It’s that someone wants me to feel cherished and loved and cared for. It’s that tender, sweet, compassionate, selfless, kind of love that honors You, Lord. I want to do all that for him too. I want him to find home in me too. I want him to feel respected and cherished too. I want him to feel safe and secure. I want him to know he’s everything I’ve ever wanted and needed. It’s not that we think we deserve that kind of love, it’s that we know Your love and want to share it with those around us. It’s because of 1 John 4:19.

We love because he first loved us.

I want simple. I want a marriage where we are both focused on You. I want someone who wants to glorify You with me. I want someone to sit in church with every Sunday. I want someone to give up their Saturdays with me to do some kind of service activity. I want to live intentionally and with a purpose. I want us to forgive each other. I want us to grow in our faith together. I want us to grow closer to You.

Amber: “What do you want out of life?”

Clay: “To be decent. That’s it. A good person. I guess I just wasn’t destined for greatness.”

Amber: “I think the world has enough greatness. Not enough goodness.”

So, here is my prayer today. I pray that I let you guide my heart more. I pray that I watch what I let into my heart more. I pray that I guard my heart. I pray I stop hiding from you. I pray that I stop running from your love. I pray that I look to your grace. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for your love. Thank you forgiving me. Thank you for making me new. Thank you for reaching out 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.