It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You.

Priscilla Shirer, in God is Able, taught about how to connect our circumstances to You, God. She explained that abundant life is not always reaching for our “it.” She gave examples of if we get married, if we lose the weight, if we graduate, if we move on from the past, if we get the job, if we pay off the car, all those things we’re looking for later. She wrote: “but it turns out, abundant life is not something you experience when there are no impossible situations to deal with. Abundant life is what Jesus offers and His Spirit enables during the times when you’re right in the middle of them. It’s meant to be experienced when all is wrong around you while all is simultaneously, inexplicably, very right within you. It’s the smile that creeps to the corners of your lips when God fills your heart with a peace that runs contrary to your reality.”

October kinda de-railed my good habits going on, at such a pace that I missed it until it was gone… And if I’m being real honest, it started in September. So, here is my list of things that need to be re-connected to You:

  • my finances
  • my quiet time
  • my ability to cope with change
  • the rock that just cracked my windshield
  • my family devotions

I could sit here and count all the mess I’ve made. But if I’m gonna do that, I need to also count the things in my life going very, very good.

  • my life group, my church family
  • my responsibilities and serving my church
  • my Titus 2 women, the women shepherding me and praying for me
  • praying for my sheep, my flock
  • my christmas stocking donations

Adding a foster kid to my routine completely changed everything. It may look like I am surrounded by: doctor visits, school registration, homework, counseling, horse lessons, case workers, social workers, medicaid and so much more. And best of all, I added a joyful, always laughing teenager to my life. I am surrounded by You, God. I am surrounded by beautiful life giving moments and people. I do not have it all together, by any stretch of the word, but my God, thank You, I have everything I need and more.

So, this is my prayer. Thank you for abundant life. Thank you for life giving people and moments. Thank you for reminders of your grace. Thank you for your promises. Thank you for your never ending love. Thank you for chasing me even when I try to run away. Thank you for making me better than I was. Thank you for not leaving me the way I was. Thank you for those precious Titus 2 women in my life and all their love and service. Thank you for opportunities to be a Titus 2 woman to others. 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.

Jesus loves me for the Bible tells me so.

I watched some sermons on YouTube again this morning and I meant to click another one from Transformation Church. Somehow it loaded a Priscilla Shirer message instead. I paused. My first thought was uh-oh. The next thought was ok, Father, I see what You did here, I’m listening.

And let’s be real for a second, Priscilla is my fave so I was not bothered when the intended video was changed. Her message was titled: God will use your abandoned boat. Like ok, I get it. I abandoned my boat.

Priscilla talked about how You don’t shame the men for getting out the boat because they were frustrated. She pointed out the men were cleaning the nets, so their intention was to use them again. They weren’t giving up, just taking a time out. Then Priscilla says when this is over, there is an assigned that’s still been assigned to you. Like ok, ok.

She said in verse 2 of Luke 5, Simon got out of the boat. In verse 3, You stepped in. You step on the very thing causing me pain and used it as a platform. She continued with the place where I didn’t have what it takes, is exactly where You will plant Your feet. The emptiness I feel is what she called a God-margin, the place between what I can do and what You can do. Priscilla said if there is emptiness, You intend to fill it. You have something planned for this little ole fishing trip. In the huge crowd of people trying to get Your attention, You saw the little ole fishermen who had a rough night fishing. She said, You see us too. You are always near. We serve a God who isn’t waiting on Heaven to have a relationship with us.

Priscilla also pointed out that Simon was not alone, there were others there in the frustration with him, helping him clean his nets. We are built for connection and relationship. Isolating myself will not get me back in that boat faster. In fact, I cannot do it at all on my own.

I also watched a message from Steven Furtick. In the message he told a story of swimming in the water with his kids, how they got carried away by the waves and got too far out without realizing it. His feet couldn’t touch the bottom and what he used to know felt more stable. I felt that. Steven talked about before Jesus’ ministry, there was the wilderness where temptation is.

Ya girl been in the wilderness. Ya girl stayed there too long too. Because like Steven said, it’s easier to reject yourself in advance instead of opening yourself up to rejection again. To really be loved requires vulnerability. Ya girl took herself out of the boat. Steven said sometimes we’ve been writing a story so long, we become a slave to it. He said self-pity is comfortable. I felt that too. He said the devil uses the word to twist the truth, to trade truths. I was stuck between two truths, like Steven preached, the one is the situation and the other is the revelation. Ya girl is leaning into the revelation today.

Priscilla talked about the wilderness too, she said the wilderness will either kill me or make me stronger. She said don’t let the wilderness in you.

So, this is my prayer today. Thank you for the lessons in the wilderness. Thank you for loving me too much to leave me there. Thank you for being near me in the wilderness. Thank you for encouragement and relationships and people to help clean up the messes. Thank you for not abandoning me when I abandon my assignment. Thank you for letting me participate in the miracles. Thank you for not giving my assignment to someone else every time I fail. Thank you for using me. Thank you for giving me opportunities to learn and grow. Thank you for filling my God-margins. Thank you for filling my emptiness. Thank you for stepping into my pain and frustration and using it for your glory. Thank you for allowing little ole me to come and worship good and holy 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’m just a girl talking to God, praying for rain.

I might be short on sleep. I might be short on money. I might be short on time. I might be literally short. I might be short on sanity. I might quite frankly be short on everything. But one thing is for sure, I’m not short on love and truth. I’ve got an abundance of unfailing love and unending truth. My cup is overflowing. Everything in this world can and will come up short. People will come up short. Places will come up short. Things will most definitely come up short. I will come up short. But You, my God, never will.

I struggle with depression, often. I’ve learned how to maintain most of my anxiety and panic attacks, but they still happen. Sometimes, the whole world thinks I’m fine, but You know I’m not. My friend sent me this Facebook post from a girl who struggles with depression. The girl said she was having a real bad go of it this time and couldn’t even function enough to shower for a week. She posted from this heartbreakingly vulnerable place to tell her family and friends that she was trying. Because on that day, she brushed her hair. She showered and brushed her hair. It seems silly because that’s something we do every single day. We get up, we shower, we brush our hair. Sometimes like a routine, without even thinking about for a minute, just doing it. But when you’re in the deep deep dark places, those everyday things can become hard. Like there’s not a point to even trying. You can lay down and stay in that dark place for days without pulling yourself out. I. Have. Been. There. More times than I care to admit. The lies talk fast and keep coming. Last Fall, I did a Bible study with Stronger by Angela Thomas-Pharr. In the study I learned that the truth is: “this life is harder than what we signed up for.” I also learned “it takes an effort to hide from people.” Angela told us about running the race and how sometimes you have to run through that cramp in your side, sometimes you have to run through the pain.

I’ve also heard previously that: “prayer is a bridge from your mess to God’s rest.” During the 21 Days of Prayer, we learned the warfare prayer in Ephesians 6:11-12 which says: Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Priscilla Shirer has preached time and time again to know who the real enemy is. Another thing I’ve heard is we have to: “put on Christ the same way we put on clothes.” Every. Single. Day.

It’s way too easy to let those bad days become weeks and those weeks become months. The darkness doesn’t even seem appealing. Like I don’t like it there, but once the lies creep in, it gets harder and harder to push them out. I heard once in a sermon that the devil is still telling the same lies he told Eve in the Garden, he doesn’t need new lies because we’re still falling for the old ones. “The devil baits the hook, it harms me, it hurts me.” Ohhh but Father, You give us a way out. Out of the darkness. Out of the hook. Out of the lies. Out of the deep places. Out of sin. Out of temptation. Out of evil. Out of despair. Out of hell. Out of it all. You are the only way out. Lysa Terkeurst says we have to filter our thoughts through Your love, through Your Biblical truth. In that 21 Days of Prayer, we learned that: “truth has to constantly come in.”

The way I pull myself out is looking up. I literally just have to find the strength to look up. Lord, Your word is living and breathing in us. All I have to do is look at Your creations to remember Your truths. The sunshine reminds me of Your perfect light, of Your perfect goodness. The stars remind me of Your perfect love, of Your perfect majesty. The storms remind me of Your perfect grace, of Your perfect mercy. The rain reminds me of Your perfect promises, of Your perfect hope. No matter the weather, I can find You there. No matter my emotions. No matter my shortcomings. No matter my surroundings. No matter my battles. No matter the weather, I can find You there.

Prince Charming on Once Upon A Time said: “Darkness never wins. It just fools you into thinking it does.” Ohhhh Lord. Let that sink into my soul. Say that again. “Darkness never wins. It just fools you into thinking it does.” Ohhhh my sweet Savior. That alone is because of You. Because You already won the war. You already gave Your life. You already defeated death. You already saved the whole world. You already defeated the enemy. You already conquered. During the 21 Days of Prayer we also learned not to put our trust in ourselves. I am not the encourager. I have to take my hands off. You and I cannot carry it at the same time. I cannot raise the dead. I cannot do the impossible.

I heard a message by Allison Wilks, where she told us to stop remembering our sin or our fear or our pain or our loss or our illness or our betrayal more than we remember our Savior. She said that was the devil and his lies. She told us to remember Your character and who You are. To remember You are kind. You are loving. You are merciful. You are just. You are all powerful, all knowing, and all compassionate. To remember Your works. Allison said to remember and move to act, to trust the One who is above all those other things.

So, here is my prayer. Lord, I’m praying for rain. I pray that your truth consumes me. I pray that I remember that life isn’t a race, it’s a marathon. I pray that I run through the pain. I pray I remember who you are. I pray that I remember you are God and I am not. I pray I remember I am yours. I pray that stop feeding the lies. I pray that I stop hiding from people, from you. I pray I remember you are all knowing. Lord, you knew my pain, before I even felt it. You already conquered the war. I pray that I stop fighting a war that’s already been won. I pray that I filter my thoughts through your love and your truth. I pray that I constantly let your truth change me, shape me, form me, move me, guide me. I pray I put my trust in you. Lord, remind me of who you are when it seems like I forget. 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’ll shine a light ’cause I am loved.

I fall for the same type of guy every single time. The one that says all the right things but doesn’t mean them. The one that makes promises he has no intention of keeping. The one that hung the moon.

The funny thing about that is the moon is pretty and catches my attention and makes me happy for a little while but it’s just a reflection of the sun. The moon has no real light of it’s own. The moon is just a glimpse of the sun.

I’m tired of settling for secondary light. I’m tired of settling for the one that only sees me as the moon too. I want sunshine and I want someone who sees me as the sun too. I’m tired of settling for something that is just a preview of the real thing. I want the world to revolve around me. I want someone to think of me daily. I want someone who needs me daily. I want someone who cannot function without me and who depends on me. I want to be someone’s first thought in the morning, not the last thought they have at night.

I know I sound selfish, and that’s probs because I am. I don’t want these things because I think I’m needy and need the person to spend every waking second thinking of me and needing me. I just want to be a consideration. Like when he goes to the grocery store, I want him to pick up flowers. I want him to make sure my car gets the oil changed because he wants me to be taken care of. I want him to take out the trash because he knows I hate it. I just want the little things, the little moments of sunshine and warmth.

I want to be the sun because I want Your love to shine through me. I want others to see You through me and the man that loves me. I want others to know that You created the sun. I want a love story written by you because it is better than any story I could ever write. I’m tired of trying to write my own story.

I’m waiting for someone to love me like You do. Adam Cappa posted: “Your heart is precious to God, so guard it, and wait for the one who will treasure it.” I don’t want perfection, because I know the only perfect love, You’ve already given me. You’ve shown me love in more ways than I will ever even be able to grasp. I just want someone to pursue You with. I want someone to hold my hand on the way to church. I want someone to pray with me and for me.

In Fervent, Priscilla Shirer told us to pray for our husbands before we ever walk down the aisle. She wrote: “Pray that he’ll be set ablaze with love for Christ and a heart for leading you well and making your marriage a devoted priority. Pray that God would guard his friendships and those who influence the path he is taking even right now. Pray that his passions would be attuned with an authentic faith, that his purity would be a matter of deep commitment, and that God would superintend the circumstances that bring the two of you together…all in His perfect plan and His perfect timing.”

So, here is my prayer today. I’m praying for my sunshine. I pray that he prays for me too. I pray Priscilla’s prayer and I pray that he is actively seeking you. I pray he is working for your glory. I pray that you are his everything. I pray that he is running to you. I pray that when trouble finds him, he goes to you. I pray that when sorrow consumes him, he goes to you. I pray that when he is lost, he goes to you. I pray that when he is blessed beyond measure, he goes to you. Lord, thank you for writing my story. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for showing me your perfect 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.

Show me the love I say I believe.

I was desperately seeking You so, I picked up that book my person gave me. Yesterday, the title hit home: “Not understanding everything.” March 8th’s verse is Proverbs 3:5-6 which says: Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. I’ve heard those verses so many times and each time I do, it means more.

I’m gonna break down my thoughts during the books explanation:

“By the time we reach adulthood, most of us are pretty good at figuring things out.” Well, I’m not really good at this adulting thing yet, but I’m trying.  Trying counts right? Nope. There’s daddy’s voice again saying: “Stop trying and do it.” “But in some areas our understanding may still be limited or flawed.” That’s for sure. Half the time, I still don’t have a clue what’s going on. Especially right now. I don’t the foggiest idea what You want me to do, who to be, or where to go. I thought graduation was going to tie up everything I’ve worked for with a nice little bow and it was going to be the stepping stone to my future. Truth is, I’ve never been more lost. Three months from now and my entire world is going to be changed and I have no idea what direction I’m taking. “That’s the joy of the promise in the verses above. God doesn’t expect us to understand everything perfectly.” Ok, good because I’m lost. “In fact, he warns us not to depend on our understanding but to depend on his perfect knowledge. We don’t just go our merry way, operating on what we assume or think to be true-we’re to look for God’s guidance. He wants to lead us.” This is where the hard part comes. Learning to let go and let God. Lord, way too often I try to figure things out on my own and then seek You. I should be calling Your name first. “Next time we start to set our own course, let’s pause and pray. Let’s follow God’s compass when we’re wondering which way to walk.” Ok, I’m gonna slow down, take a breath, I’m listening. Father, lead me. Show me which way to walk.

I remembered this part I read in Fervent:

“Because the fact is, He is quietly working on your behalf without any fanfare. Preparing, arranging, and planning for your good. He is all-powerful. He is sovereign. He is right and true and eternally glorious, impervious to the enemy’s intentions. And whatever comes next in your life, it will be undoubtedly be another opportunity for you to be swept into your Father’s arms and carried through it. And that is where you want to be. Because in His arms, you’ll know the beauty of His peace-‘the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension’ and which guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:7).”

So, that is my prayer today. Thank you for open arms. Thank you for never leaving me. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for being here. Thank you for guarding my heart and my mind. Thank you for working on my behalf. Thank you for your preparations, your arrangements, and your plans.  I pray that I lay mine down. Lord, help to lay it down, once and for all. Lord, help me lay down my control. Help me lay down my trust issues. Help me lay down my plans. Help me lay down my understanding, my confusion, my misdirection. Lord, help me to follow you instead of getting lost on my own. Lord, move me. Guide me. Lead me. Show me the path. Lord, open my eyes. Father, carry me. I can’t do this on my own. 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.

Only Your love can fill up my cup.

The closest thing I’ve got to a love story is: girl meets boy, girl runs. Every time I meet someone, I immediately start praying. And it usually goes a little something like this: “Lord, if this isn’t Your will, then slam the door. Loudly and quickly. Make it obvious and apparent that this is not a part of Your plan.” Sometimes, I can be a little hardheaded and sometimes, I can get easily confused which is why I pray this prayer. Usually it’s my first thought after meeting someone or as soon as I start to have feelings for them. This is why I’ve never actually had a real relationship that lasted more than like two weeks. Of all the times I’ve said this prayer, only like twice did I not listen when You tried to shut the door and I realized why You shut the door before things even started. I got hurt, but I knew better. There were clear signs that I should have listened to. I made a choice not to listen and learned from it, but I know that too was a part of Your plan because nothing happens without Your prior planning.

Honestly, I pray this partly out of fear because I don’t wanna get hurt. I don’t wanna get attached if it’s not a part of Your plan. The other part, that I hope is much bigger, is that I want to go where You lead. I want to follow the path You set before me. I want to trust You, completely, where-ever that leads me.

With graduation coming up, I’m filling out applications and sending out my resume. As I am sending emails, I find myself making that same prayer: “Lord, if this isn’t Your will, then slam the door. Loudly and quickly. Make it obvious and apparent that this is not a part of Your plan.” Well, that means the appropriately titled “rejection letters” folder on my email is filling up.

Today, I was reading FerVent and Priscilla Shirer wrote chapter 6 on fear. In the chapter she talks about the different ways that Satan tells us lies and one of them is: “not qualified enough for that job?” Which is exactly what my fear is about lately. I’ve spent my entire life preparing for this college graduation and gaining all the knowledge and experience that I can so that I am prepared for whatever lies next. But, those rejection letters keep telling me I don’t have enough experience. So, I keep praying that prayer, knowing that just means I wasn’t meant for that path. I know that there is a job out there that You created me for. One that You’ve been preparing me for. One that You created me to do. In the book, Priscilla wrote that Satan is full of excuses and trying to fill me up with fear. That got me thinking. I’m gonna change my prayer up a little.

I’m gonna change my viewpoint and perspective. Instead of letting fear control me, I’m going to let my faith lead me.

I confess, my weakness
Til You pick up the parts that are broken
Pour out Your perfection on me now

So, this is my prayer today. I pray that you lead me to the right door, instead of closing the wrong ones. I pray that you show me where you want me to go. I pray that I am open and willing to serve you. I pray that I listen when you speak. I pray that you empty me of me. I pray that you fill up my cup. I pray that you fill my hollowness. I pray that you wrap me in love. I pray that you hold me. I pray that you lead me. I pray that I follow. I pray that I am able to receive your guidance. I pray that my eyes and heart are open. I pray that I’m listening. I pray that I’m ready for the journey. I pray that you keep teaching me. I pray that you keep preparing 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.

Somehow I feel like I was born for this.

To say that War Room impacted the three of us that saw the movie last week would be an understatement. One of us went home and started making a prayer wall, like immediately. As for me and my person, we took to dramatically screaming the entire speech every time something happens now. You know, the one where Priscilla Shirer runs around her house praying and telling the devil to get out of her house. She was flawless! She had me crying the whole speech. Now, anytime something happens, we start praying immediately. There is a bug in the house? Devil get up out my house. Job interview fail? Devil get up out my career search. My car will be ready this week, but it’s going to cost more than the original estimate? Devil get up out my car. K-Love app needed to buffer and crash instead of letting me listen to the music? Devil get up out my phone. Literally. Everything.

That speech got us all riled up and ready to face anything. From the little stuff to the life changers. Today, when I got bad news I started to get upset, but a friend was on her way to take me to the rec center with her. I headed straight for the track, put on my prayer playlist, and started praying. First, I was confused and I’ll admit, I was just plain mad. But, I remembered War Room and how I needed to stop fighting battles I couldn’t win and start fighting the right battles. I changed my entire perspective and refocused my prayer.

Karen Ehman from Proverbs 31 Ministries said: “Determine today to stop hiding out in old destructive habits. Instead, come out into the light of His glorious grace and learn a new method of coping. Race to Him instead of running back to your old ways. His Word is alive and active. It can help us break horrible habits and form new, Jesus-pleasing ones as we reply with a resounding ‘No’ to returning to the dangerous familiar.” Today, I almost ran back to old habits, but I chose to run to You in prayer. Today, I chose to come into Your light, instead of hiding out in the darkness. I want to run to You, Lord.

So, here is my prayer today. Thank you for changing my perspective. Thank you for refocusing my prayers. Thank you for guiding me. Thank you for the reminder today. Thank you for making me a warrior. I pray that you continue to change my heart. I pray that you keep working on me. I pray that I keep falling to my knees in need of you. I pray that I keep seeking you. I pray that I keep calling your name, Lord. I pray that I trust you and trust your plan. I pray that I put my faith in you. I pray that I leave my worries at your feet. I pray that I keep my eyes on you, instead of the storm. I pray that I run to you. I pray that I leave old coping methods behind and head straight for the cross instead. Thank you for opening your arms for me today and everyday. Thank you for letting me run towards your light. 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.