I’m trying to hear above the noise.

I am a big fan of Jo Dee Messina. I grew up watching her videos on CMT ever single morning when I got ready for school. She posted a video today of her cover of Plumb’s song Need You Now. In the opening of the video, she talks about her struggle with her mom getting sick. Then she said: “I am my mother’s daughter, but first I am a child of God.” but first I am a child of God. Yes. I am. Before my grief. Before my pain. Before all the darkness. I am a child of God.

I’ve spent this year reading the words of Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl over and over and trying to apply it to my life. Anyone who knows me knows I hate rereading books. This book is different. Every time I read Lysa’s words, I see something different and I want to carve an even deeper relationship with You, Lord.

She wrote: “But other times the hurt comes in the form of a loss that cuts into your heart so viciously it forever redefines who you are and how you think. It’s what I call deep grief. The kind that strains against everything you’ve ever believed.” Well it certainly changed my prayer life and my perspective. The more I wanted to pull away, the more You pulled me closer. She continued by saying: “I was asking the wrong question. I was asking why. Why did this happen? Why didn’t You stop this, God? Why were my prayers not answered? Why?” Lord, You and I both know, I asked these questions and some. I couldn’t understand why my grandma had to suffer or why Christopher had to leave us so early. I had never lost anyone and then I lost two very important people within three months of each other. I couldn’t even process one before another one was gone. Why, was a constant question in my life.

Lysa wrote: “And His reasons, from our limited perspective would always fall short. That’s because our flat human perceptions simply can’t process God’s multidimensional, external reasons. God describes it this way: ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’ (Isaiah 55:8-9). We can’t see the full scope of the situation like God can; therefore we must acknowledge that His thoughts are more complete and that He is more capable of accurately discerning what is best in every circumstance. In the case of losing a loved one, love skews even the most rational parts of us. Our love for the person we lost would never allow God’s reasons to make us feel any better or to understand any more fully. We would still feel as though God had made a terrible mistake. So, if asking the why question doesn’t offer hope, what will? The what question. In other words: Now that this has happened, what am I supposed to do with it?” 

That question is something I very much I want to answer. They weren’t perfect people. Those two knew just how to push my buttons and make me madder than a Hatter, but I want them to know I learned something from loving them. In more ways than one, they helped me pray over the past year and a half. They’ve been a daily reminder that I need You.

Further into the book, Lysa wrote: “I know that He is preparing me for what I will need throughout this day. He is already standing in every minute of my day and He sees what I will face. He’s equipping me to be able to handle what is ahead of me with His gentle boldness, quiet strength, and loving grace.” Later she adds: “Some things are fun and good; others are extremely difficult and painful. Somehow Jesus has used it all.” Then she continues by saying: “Jesus can take everything surrendered to Him and turn it around for good. Everything.”

So, that is my prayer today. Lord, I have thanked you for a lot of things over the past twenty-three years, but I have never thanked you for this. Thank you for preparing me. Thank you for giving me the courage I needed. Thank you for your gentle boldness, your quiet strength, and your loving grace. I pray that I continue to ask the what question. I pray that I continue to fall on my knees in need of you. I pray that I keep seeking you. Thank you for taking my grief and loss and using it for your good. Thank you for taking my pain and using it for your good. Thank you for teaching me and leading me. Thank you for your hand on my life. Thank you for loving me even through all the broken pieces and cracks. Lord, I am trying to follow you and listen to you. I am trying to actively seek you in my daily routine. Through everything that has happened, the more I realize how desperately I need you. I am so thankful you never left me, no matter how far I ran or pushed you away. Thank you for having open arms 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.

We breathe in Your grace and exhale.

Today, at work, there was one of those pocket sized Bibles sitting on the host stand. So, I opened it and turned to Psalms and landed on Psalm 17. Don’t know why I stopped there. I just did. Psalm 17 is a prayer of David. And boyyyyyy did I need it today. So, let me break this down.

Hear me, Lord, my plea is just; listen to my cry. Hear my prayer—it does not rise from deceitful lips. Let my vindication come from you; may your eyes see what is right. Though you probe my heart, though you examine me at night and test me, you will find that I have planned no evil; my mouth has not transgressed. Though people tried to bribe me, I have kept myself from the ways of the violent through what your lips have commanded. My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not stumbled. I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who are out to destroy me, from my mortal enemies who surround me. They close up their callous hearts, and their mouths speak with arrogance. They have tracked me down, they now surround me, with eyes alert, to throw me to the ground. They are like a lion hungry for prey, like a fierce lion crouching in cover. Rise up, Lord, confront them, bring them down; with your sword rescue me from the wicked. By your hand save me from such people, Lord, from those of this world whose reward is in this life. May what you have stored up for the wicked fill their bellies; may their children gorge themselves on it, and may there be leftovers for their little ones. As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.

Lord, I am not like David. Sometimes, I say things without thinking or even meaning them. I hurt people sometimes without realizing it. Lord, I am not like David. Sometimes, I stumble. But, You hear my prayers anyways. You show me the wonders of Your great love. You save me. You protect me from those trying to hurt me. Through that forgiveness and through Your strength, I see You. I see Your love everywhere I go.

Ephesians 4:29 says: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 

I am the first to say that words are important so, why do I chose my own so carelessly? I am so wrapped up in my own little world sometimes that I forget there are soo many people around me. My words can be misunderstood and misused so easily, so why don’t I protect them? My words can have a much bigger impact than I realize so, I should focus on using them to build instead of vent. Venting does nothing. I don’t feel better. The person who started it doesn’t feel better. The person listening doesn’t feel better. So, why do I participate? I should be breathing in Your grace and exhaling Your grace. I should not only absorb Your love, but share it with everyone I meet.

So, this is my prayer today. I pray that I remember David’s prayer. I pray that I take Ephesians 4:29 with me. I pray that I guard my words more carefully. I pray that I guard my thoughts and my heart too. Thank you for showing me your love and grace. Thank you for the reality check today. Thank you for reminding me that I am not the center of the universe. You are. I pray that I learn to speak only words that build up and not break down. I pray that I learn to take things to you instead of others. I pray that I learn from David and learn to be like you. I pray that I breathe in your grace and exhale. I pray that I breathe in your word and exhale. I pray that I breathe in your love and exhale. I pray that I breathe in your goodness and exhale. I pray that I exhale all that you’ve shown me. I pray that I share you with everyone around me. I pray that you reconcile this heart to yours. I pray that I learn to let go. Thank you for wrapping your love around me. Thank you for holding me close and protecting me. Thank you for welcoming me into your arms. Thank you for letting me surrender and tearing down my walls. 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.