Take your time and let it last, little girl.

I watched the Church of the Highland’s prayer service online this morning. The pastor read Colossians 4:2 which says: Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. He said: “Giving thanks in prayer helps us to remember that God is good and God is always in control.” I needed that reminder today. I started thinking about other times in my life when I needed that reminder that You are good and You are always in control.

Dear 8 year old me, you have enough faith to fill an ocean, don’t lose that. When the invitation comes, hold your mama’s hand down the aisle and squeeze it real hard. Listen to MercyMe sing: “You are one of the redeemed. Set apart. A brand new heart. You are free indeed.”

Thank You Lord, for teaching me to have courage.

Dear 13 year old me, listen to your mama when she says standing up for yourself isn’t putting others down. It doesn’t change them, it only changes you. It hardens your heart. Being too nice should never be the issue. It’s a lesson you’ll keep fighting for the rest of your life. People will come into your life sooner than you know it that will need and appreciate your kindness. Listen to Jake Owen sing: “If I had a dime for half the things I did that didn’t make no sense at all, I’d be living a little higher on the hog. If only I’d’ve known that later on down the road, I’d look back and not like what I see. I’d’ve changed a lot of things… Startin’ with me.”

Thank You Lord, for teaching me to soften my heart.

Dear 17 year old me, things aren’t always going to go your way, no matter how hard you work. You are going to make mistakes. You are going to get rejected again and again. When you start to get an attitude and want to just throw your hands in the air and say whatever, listen to your mama’s voice telling you to say your verse, Philippians 4:8. Listen to Brad Paisley sing: “And oh you got so much going for you going right. But I know at 17 it’s hard to see past Friday night.”

Thank You Lord, for teaching me to seek You and find my worth in You.

Dear 24 year old me, stop letting fear control you. Trust Him. He is going to close doors you thought you really wanted and open other doors you never saw coming. Keep learning to bring everything to the cross before you bring it to the world. Listen to Carrie Underwood sing: “Cause it’s hard to know just what to do when I still feel like a child in my mama’s shoes.

Thank You Lord, for teaching me to have courage.

The pastor also said: “God is always moving even when I cannot see it.” Thank you Lord, for allowing me to see Your hand in my life. I didn’t see it at the time, but thank you so much for moving in my life, despite my fear.

So, that is my prayer today. Thank you Father, for guiding me, for teaching me, for leading me. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for the knowledge that I am not alone. Thank you for your goodness. Thank you for listening to me over the years. Thank you for tapping on my heart and knocking on the door. Thank you for allowing me to worship you. I pray that I keep putting my trust in you. I pray that I come to you more often with a thankful heart. I pray that I come to you alert and ready to hear your teaching. Thank you for so many lessons. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for my faith. Thank you for my mama and daddy and all they have taught me too. Thank you changing my heart over the years. Thank you for allowing me to grow. 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.

 

All that I need is to be with You and in the quiet hear Your voice.

I started my finals week early on Wednesday, when I was finishing a couple of last things for my Thursday presentation, by reading Colossians 3:23 which says: Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men. After reading that I immediately felt empowered and ready to get to work. I mean, I was literally excited to finish. I had been staring at my presentation stuff for what seemed like an eternity without making any substantial headway and then after reading that verse, I finished my presentation within half an hour.

I was still excited after two more full long days of studying for my next final and then today happened. I took one of my marketing finals. When the test started and I heard literally 50 other people slamming down on their keyboards, I got overwhelmed. So, I remembered the verse and focused. I felt accomplished coming out of it. So, I took an hour break. During that break I was told that I was mediocre. I am a big fan of words, but not this one. Mediocre is defined by Google as: “of only moderate quality; not very good.” Synonyms for mediocre are: ordinary, average, middle-of-the-road, uninspired, undistinguished, indifferent, unexceptional, unexciting, unremarkable, run-of-the-mill, pedestrian, prosaic, lackluster, forgettable, amateur, amateurish, OK, so-so, plain-vanilla, fair-to-middling, no great shakes, not up to much.

The first synonym is what got me. Like what is this, Grey’s Anatomy? I am not ordinary. I am Meredith Grey extraordinary. The next one that got me was uninspired. I am anything but that! I had to look up prosaic, in all honesty. It means: lacking poetic beauty or commonplace. That’s just rude. And excuse me? No great shakes?!? I can dance to Shake It Off with the best of them! In fact, I might be the most embarrassing dancer in the room when that song comes on, but I can also guarantee my smile is the biggest and brightest. Taylor would be proud. I had that verse with me the whole week until I took a break. Then I got distracted and I was momentarily knocked out of the game zone. I went to grab dinner with my little and on the way back to the student center to continue studying this song came on the radio.

So, here is my prayer today. I pray that I listen to you more. I pray that I listen your verse more. I pray that I really apply that verse to my life. I pray that I do everything I do for you. I pray that I let go of what everyone else’s opinion is. I pray that you speak in my life. I pray that I let go of all the other noises. I pray that I let my life become so quiet that all I hear is you. I pray that I get right back to that game zone and get right back to studying because you aren’t finished with me yet. You have a plan for my life and nothing you do is mediocre. Lord, I pray that I just listen to you and your word. I pray that I lay everything else down. 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.

Let all proclaim You reign victorious.

I remembered something today that we talked about in bible study last week. The question was “What distractions pull you or block you from the Lord?” One of the ladies answered simply, “I am. I am the distraction.” I knew it was true when she said it, but thinking about it more today reminded me exactly how true it was. About a month ago, I decided to give up social media and my Netflix and Hulu and all the extra stuff. Well, I wasn’t very successful. I failed actually. Yes, those things are distractions sometimes, but they weren’t the main issue. I was. I was the distraction.

I wanted to find time in my day to spend with You. I wanted to spend more time with You. I wanted to find time to really study Your word. While I failed at giving up Facebook and Hulu, I did do that. I like that I end my day with a prayer. I think about that prayer and continue to pray that prayer the whole next day. It helps me live more intentionally and on purpose. In walking with You, I found out how truly victorious You are. It was never about Facebook or Twitter. It was about me. I was the broken one and You were always the victorious one. In the bible study, we talked about how our lives had to be an active pursuit towards You. I started this journey last year and You keep showing me that no matter how broken I am, You remain victorious.

Third Day posted: “I heard a sermon one time about God being victorious in battle. Whether it’s battles on a battlefield in old testament kind of times or whether it’s battles with our inner selves, and feelings and emotions and sin… That God is always victorious. He can help us to be victorious through those struggles that we have. – Mac”

Mercy Me has a song too that says: “There’ll be days I lose the battle. Grace says that it doesn’t matter. Cause the cross already won the war.”

So, that is my prayer today. Lord, you keep reminding me that you already won the war. I pray that you are victorious. I pray that you are victorious in me. I pray that I take all that Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl taught me. I pray that you are victorious in my heart. I pray that you are victorious in my walk with you. I pray that you are victorious in my relationships. I pray that you are victorious in my struggles. I pray that you are victorious in my thoughts. I pray that you are victorious in my calling. I pray that you continue to teach me. I pray that I remember Third Day’s lyrics today. I pray that you are victorious over sin. I pray that you are victorious over death. I pray that you are victorious over all. I pray that you are victorious over us. Lord, I know you are victorious over all these things and so much more. I pray that I put my trust in you and give it all to you. I pray that I keep reaching for you. I pray that I keep following you. I pray that you keep leading me. Thank you for putting those women in my life. I pray for them today. Lord, I lift them up to you. I pray that you lay your hands on them this week. I pray that I share what you’ve taught me. I pray that I share your light. I pray that you use me. I pray that others can see your work in me. I pray that I learn to reflect your light. I pray that you keep working on me. I pray that you keep preparing me heart. 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.

You are with us.

Today is one of those days where I am just emotional for no reason. I am completely afraid of everything even though I have no reason to be. Fear is defined as: “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” So, because I like lists, here is a list of my biggest fears:

1. Bridges

2. Car Accidents

3. Death

4. Losing Loved Ones

5. Feeling Inadequate

6. Loneliness

7. Elevators

8. The Future

9. Failure

10. Getting Hit

Why am I so scared when I have You? They call You Emmanuel which literally means “God is with us.” 

Lord, You set us free from all our fears. In You, we can find rest and peace. In You, we can find joy. In You, we don’t have to have anxiety. We can lay everything at the feet of the cross. Lord, You save us. Psalm 121:1-2 says: “A Song of Ascents. I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” 

In the movie He’s Just Not That Into You, the girl I related to the most was told that she likes the drama; that she liked the fear. He called her out so, she decided to cut the additional unneeded anxiety out. I realized I do this too. I add unnecessary stress by:

1. Waiting until the very last second to put gas in the car.

2. Returning Redbox movies at the last minute.

3. Over planning.

4. Over analyzing every word spoken to me.

5. My irrational fears.

I realized that these things hold me back, and I should just fix my eyes on You.

Today, the soundtrack in my head was playing a lot. It made me realize: 1. You are with us. 2. My help comes from You. 3. I should fix my eyes on all that You are. Basically all my useless drama, anxiety, stress, and fears come from my need for control. I want to control everything, but I can’t. I need to give you the reins and realize you are already there.

So, that is my prayer today. I pray that I let go of my need for control. I pray that I let go of my anxiety and stress. I pray that I let go of my fears because no matter what my fears are you are already there waiting to take care of me. You are already there waiting for me to take your hand. You are already there ready to help me. Lord, you already broke the chains, so I pray that I learn to put them down. I pray that I learn to give you the control. I pray that I learn to praise in the storm. 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 greater is the One living inside of me.

Taylor Swift wrote this letter to her fan that was being bullied back in September. I saved the link because I really liked what Taylor said in the letter and thought I would want to reread it one day. I was right. This is the letter:

“Reading this made me so sad because I love seeing you in your videos and photos being so happy and wide eyed, like the world isn’t as harsh and unfair as it actually is. I hate thinking about your pretty face covered in tears, but I know why you’re crying because I’ve been in your place. This isn’t a high school thing or an age thing. It’s a people thing. A life thing. It doesn’t stop. It doesn’t end or change. People cut other people down for entertainment, amusement, out of jealousy, because of something broken inside them. Or for no reason at all.

It’s just what they do, and you’re a target because you live your life loudly and boldly. You’re bright and joyful and so many people are cynical. They won’t understand you and they won’t understand me. But the only way they win is if your tears turn to stone and make you bitter like them. It’s okay to ask why. It’s okay to wonder how you could try so hard and still get stomped all over. Just don’t let them change you or stop you from singing or dancing around to your favorite song.

You’re going into high school this week and this is your chance to push the reset button on how much value you give the opinion of these kids, most of whom have NO idea who they are. I’m so proud of you and protective of you because you DO. If they don’t like you for being yourself, be yourself even more.

Every time someone picks on me, I’ll think of you in the hopes that every time someone picks on you, you’ll think of me…and how we have this thread that connects us. Let them keep living in the darkness and we’ll keep walking in the sunlight. Forever on your side, Taylor.”

People are unnecessarily mean sometimes. People will try to cut you down or break you. People will hurt you. They will leave you out. They will tell you all your flaws. They will belittle you and tell you that you are inadequate. No matter what you do, people will always find something to criticize. I heard this quote once: “You may think your only choices are to swallow your anger or throw it in someone’s face. There’s a third option: You can just let it go, and only when you do that, is it really gone and you can move forward.” To be honest, I struggle with this. I get bitter and I take things personally. I take their words and actions straight to heart.

On the radio, the other day, was a new Mercy Me song called Greater.

Lord, You are greater than all my doubt. You are greater than all my bitterness. You are greater than my fears of inadequacy. You are greater than all my flaws. You are greater than all the bad in the world. You are greater than any battle I could ever win or lose.

So, that is my prayer today. I pray that I remember that you are greater. I pray for the mean people. I pray they find love and peace. I pray they learn to spread more kindness than hatred. I pray for the girl that Taylor wrote this letter for. I pray that tomorrow she has a wonderful day. I pray for Taylor. I pray she keeps writing letters like these. I pray she keeps inspiring people to walk in the sunshine rather than the darkness. I pray that I remember not to let the darkness control me. I pray that you lead me, Lord. I pray that I try to walk with you more. I pray that I grow closer to 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.

This is where the healing begins!

Today, when it started raining at work my first thought was: “Oh great! I’m gonna get soaked when I leave!” But then I remembered a conversation I had with Christopher. We used to talk about our childhood all the time. I told him that my mama used to tell me that storms were when God threw a party because he was so happy someone came to Heaven. When he was a kid he was taught the same thing. We had a lot in common that way. I guess that’s why it was raining the morning Christopher left us. The rain was strangely comforting like I knew God had him and he was happy his son came home. I couldn’t really comprehend much that day other than the disbelief and confusion. In the coming months I got depressed and angry and went through so many emotions that I literally made myself sick for a long time. I still have days where I can’t get out of bed because the weight of the world seems like it is going to crush me and I feel claustrophobic.

Today, when it started raining my first thought was negative. But my second thought was a memory of Christopher and remembrance that every storm has it’s purpose and brings hope of finding a rainbow. Right after I started crying “Healing Begins” by Tenth Avenue North came on my Mercy Me Pandora station. I felt my thoughts start to change right then. I immediately started talking to people nicer and feeling like me again, if only for a minute. I still don’t understand why he was taken from us and I probably won’t ever understand. All I know is that God needed him and had other plans for him. I am a planner, always have been. I was making schedules and plans and organizing things since I could talk. Which is why I am a public relations major, I was born to be in communications. I have been using those abilities and perfecting them since childhood and I didn’t even know it so the fact that I can use those talents to go out in the world and try to make a difference is really exciting. But it also is something that hurts me when things don’t go according to my plan. Christopher’s leaving was definitely not in my plan. God has bigger plans than I do though.

So, that is my prayer for today. I pray that I learn to accept that God has bigger plans than I do. I pray that I let “Healing Begins” be the theme song for my life, at least for a little while. I pray that I speak softer to people and find myself again. I pray that my negative thoughts are changed into positive ones. I pray for the others that were connected to Christopher. 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.