Better is one day in Your courts.

Psalms 65:4 says “How happy is the one you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We will be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple.” Lord, I am just so thankful You chose me. You sought me out. You bought me. You bring me near. You not only give me a way out, You give me a new residence. You give me a home, in You. You give me love. You give me peace.

I was thinking about all this while I was reading my Redeemed Bible study. I am forgiven. I am righteous. I am adopted and chosen. I have access to the King. I am a citizen of Heaven. I have peace.

I have been thinking about Hunter Hayes new song: Dear God since the single dropped. Poor guy is hurtin. He has some of that stinkin thinkin that I had. Somebody mail this guy a copy of my Redeemed study. I’ve been there. I’ve had the same thoughts. But ohhhhh how Your love has set my heart to dancin. I am a new creation. Abba Father, You save me. You break my heart for what breaks Yours. You sustain me here. You opened my heart and healed it. My trust is in You.

Psalms 66:12 says: “…we went through fire and water but you brought us out to abundance.” The more and more I grow closer to You this year, the more thankful I am for You. Everywhere I turn I see more and more of Your handiwork and I am so utterly thankful for it.

So, that is my prayer today. Thank you for the happiness you provide. Thank you for the satisfaction and joy filling my heart. Thank you for your goodness. Thank you for inviting me into your courts. Thank you for your gifts. Thank you for ways out. Thank you for bringing me near. Thank you for love. Thank you for peace. Thank you for forgiveness. Thank you for calling me redeemed. Thank you for adopting me. Thank you for sustaining me here. Thank you for teaching me. Thank you for making my heart move. Thank you for every beat of my heart. Thank you for the fire and the flood. Thank you for the abundance. 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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I’m on my way to Heaven, would you like to come along?

I didn’t know where to begin this one. I didn’t know how to start or even where to start. A friend of mine shared their story with me so I wanted to honor that trust by bringing it to the very person who wrote my story, Lord, You. Father, I think the very least I can do is to trust You. A sweet preacher in Chelsea, AL taught us, a few Sundays ago, that: “no one can sing my song but me.” He said: “you are a somebody because He knows your name, He knows your song.” 

Ok, so here goes nothing. Or everything…

I was sexually abused by more than one person, in more than one way.

All before I even started high school. I wanted to pretend this wasn’t real. Sometimes, it still doesn’t feel real. I almost convinced myself that the nightmares, were just nightmares. I started the healing process through counseling. I started to see things more clearly. Some of the symptoms that I had just chalked up to normal life were actually signs of PTSD and Disassociation. I got wayyy more signs of disassociation than I would like to admit. Ya girl got issues.

But You, my God, are so patient. so kind. so loving. You were there through it all. The more I have gotten to know You, the more I can see You through all of it.

My favorite verse is Isaiah 43:2 which says: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. If left to my own devices, I would be drowned, consumed, overwhelmed, and burned. I would have never made it through the second grade. But my God, that is the exact year I got saved. That is the exact year, I walked down that church aisle, asking You to save me. I always forget the first verse which says: But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. Lord, not only did You create me and form me. You redeemed me. You call me by name. When Satan calls me by my sin, You call me by my name! I am free from the wrath by the power of the blood. I saved this picture on my phone that says: “I survived because the fire inside me burned brighter than the fire around me.”

I started the Redeemed study by Angela Thomas-Pharr. In the first part, she asks us to fill in the blank for: “I’ve given up trying…” I finished it with: “to walk like this.” I am not carrying this baggage anymore. I am unloading these suitcases. I am not carrying this weight with me any longer. This guilt. This shame. This pride. This need for control. This darkness. I let everyone else in my life set the boundaries, so then I put up walls in response to my boundaries being crossed. What I should have been doing is letting You, Lord, set up my perimeters and focused on You. Because when I have my eyes on You, I’m walking on water. When I focus on everything around me, I’m sinking. Lord, I crave the light because there is a darkness in me, darker than even I know. In those broken places, is the exact places that the light gets in. In those broken places, is the exact places that we can help someone else. The exact place that I can chose to share Your glory.

When I lost my friend, I asked You a lot of why questions. Through Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa Terkheurst, I realized that was the wrong question. The right question is: what am I gonna do with what I have been given, what I have left? In the Redeemed study, I am learning to ask: who You are and what You’ve said. In Unwrap the Bible, Beth Moore said: “God is going to use one question to lead to blessings in another question.” 

I have this question written in my journal that says: how do you design something, knowing it’ll fail? Lord, You created me, You designed every hair on my head. You knew I would fail before I even took my first breath. But I think that is the point. I think that right there is redemption. When I am broken way beyond repair. When I fall to my knees. That right there is exactly where I need to be. Because right there is exactly where You fix me. Because right there is exactly where I see You work.

Steven Furtick said: “whether we know it or not, we are passing on our perspective to those we influence. And whatever is not healed is handed down. I can’t chose what I’m handed but I can choose what I hand back.” In The Gospel of Mark, Lisa Harper told us that: “Jesus knows exactly where you are. Jesus knows how heart-broken you are, He’s been there. He’s been segregated and alone in the wilderness, facing wild beasts. He knows exactly where you hurt.” Lisa said we don’t have to clean ourselves up to come to You. But my God, You love us too much to leave us that way. You meet us there and cover us.

I have always been a very organized planner. I have my five year plan but I also have a ten year plan and a fifteen year plan. I have certainly changed my plans over the years. 1st grade me wanted to serve You and be a missionary. Best believe, I had a plan for it too. As I got older, I wanted to be a teacher. In middle school, ya girl watched Legally Blonde and got a little power hungry. Ya girl wanted to be a lawyer then a judge then swoop right into the supreme court. In high school, I came back around to teaching. In college, I switched majors to Communications. Now I’ve gone and started grad school in human services counseling in christian ministries.

I tend to get overly excited and put my cart before my horse. But no where, on any of my plans, was any of the bad stuff. Ok. I planned perfect fairy tales with only enough realism approved by yours truly. The only thing that has remained a constant is my want to serve You in whatever capacity I could find. Lysa Terkheurst said: “remember this: God is working things out. He is present. His plan is still good and He can still be trusted. I used to think that being in ministry made me more of a target for the enemy’s attacks. But now I think God saw the attacks coming and made sure I was in ministry. Having my heart and mind constantly focused on God’s Truths has changed the way I see and process everything.”

So, here is my prayer today. I pray that I lead with kindness and grace. I pray that I am showing others who you are. I pray that I am showing others what you do. I pray that I am showing others when to lean on you. I pray that I am showing others where you’re leading. I pray that I am showing others why I chose to walk with you. I pray that I am showing others how to follow you. I pray that every word in my story point to you. Father, even when I am not present, you are. Father, even when my plans are no good at all, you are. Father, even when I fail miserably, you can still be trusted. Kelly Minter said: “who Jesus has called you to be is the most exciting and liberating identity you can have.” Abba, thank you for reminding me that my identity is found in you. Thank you for reminding me that my identity is not what happened to me, what I’ve lost, or even what I’ve done. Hanna Brencher said: “one day you’ll be out of this. And all the things you felt-all the places you went in the dark-will help someone come out of the woods too.” Lord, open my eyes to the needs of those around me. Niki Rowe wrote: “like a wild flower; she spent her days, allowing herself to grow, not many knew of her struggle, but eventually all; knew of her light.” I pray that everyone around me sees your light in me. Lord, I chose you. I chose grace over wrath. I chose life over death. I chose light over dark. I chose trust over fear. I chose your plan over mine. 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 am redeemed.

I absolutely love fairy tales. I love that they teach that love always wins. So, of course when the show, Once Upon A Time, started I was all for it. I love that the lines between good and evil are not always black and white. That even the best people have their weaknesses and even the ones you think will always be the villain, have some good in them. I love that the villains and heroes are not born that way, but they chose to be that way. I love that they have a choice in their actions and a choice in how their stories are written. I think we are all given the freedom of choice. Everything we do is our choice, You just know what we are going to choose before it happens. You gave us life, but what we do with it is up to us.

On the last episode they said that forgiveness was earned.  I agree that when we do something wrong we should apologize and try to make up for it. I don’t think that forgiveness is earned. I don’t think that any amount of good deeds makes up for our mistakes. We are sinners. We are not perfect. I was always taught that Your love was pure; that there were no strings attached. We just have to believe in You. We simply call Your name and ask for forgiveness and confess that You are God. Lord, I believe that you forgave me even though I don’t deserve it. That You took away the darkness and made it light. You took away my sin. That doesn’t mean we should be complacent in our wrongdoings. I believe that because we are forgiven and loved that purely, that we should want to share that love and strive to be better. That doesn’t mean we won’t fall sometimes, but it does mean that we will try harder to be better next time. I believe we are called to live in a way that will honor you. I believe that you saved me for a reason. There is a purpose for my life. I believe that when we accept You into our lives that we are changed. We are redeemed.

When I was younger, in children’s church they always taught it to us by having us make these “salvation bracelets” that were made with different colored beads. Black is our sin which separates us from You. Red is because You died on the cross for our sins. White is our new lives in You because You cleansed all our sins. “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Isaiah 1:18 Blue is for our baptism when we confess You are God. Green is for our growth in You and our faith. “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18 Gold is for the promise that one day we will meet You in Heaven.

So, that is my prayer today. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for saving me. Thank you for your grace and salvation. Thank you for loving me with a pure love. I pray that I show more of your love and unselfishness. I pray that I learn to forgive more easily. I pray that I give more to those around me. I pray that I strive to be better for you. I pray that I use the life you gave me. I pray that I grow in you. I pray that I use my life to serve you. I pray that I use my life to lift your name up. 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.