It’s nothing He ain’t seen before.

I’ve started reading all these books on kids and teenagers since that is who 99% of my day is spent with and/or praying for lately. One of the books I’m reading said: “The greatest gift we can give our children is a sense of belonging, a place in the family and from there a place in the world.” Ohhhhh sweet Lord, Jesus. We spend our whole lives looking to belong. In friendships, in our families, in our classrooms, in our workplaces, in our churches, literally in every function of our daily lives. We’re all searching for what You already gave us. A seat at the table.

The house we grew up in as kids is temporary. My college dorm was short-lived. Living in the sorority house ends too. That first apartment where I finally got to start feeling like an adult and buy some actual furniture of my own is gone in the blink of an eye. My house right now is temporary. And the hotel I moved into last night for the next few months is most certainly temporary. Eventually I’ll get married, move to another place and that will be temporary too. I’ll start a family, look for a bigger place, again that’s temporary. If all goes well, I’ll retire and go back to a smaller place, still temporary. Life is full of these temporary homes. In reading these parenting books, I keep learning what I can do to help these kids but I also get this overwhelming understanding of Your love as our Abba Father that I didn’t have before. Thank You, my good Lord Almighty, Heaven is not temporary. It is eternal. My name is written in the book. I’ve got a permanent seat at the table. And those things are not temporary. They cannot be taken. They do not fade away. They do not change. Father, You gave me a deeper sense of belonging than I’ll ever even know and I don’t lean on that enough. Lord, You take my brokenness and make it whole.

I read it in my devotion book and I’ve been praying it for like two weeks now since I started my new position at work. “Just use what you have, do the best you can, and trust Him to fill in the gaps.” That’s been my motto working with these kids. I’m trying to use what I have, grow as much as possible, and do the best I can. I already read Praying Circles Around the Lives of Your Children. I’m reading every book I can get my hands on from devotion books: Girls with Swords to parenting books: Be The Best Mom You Can Be to Shepherding a Child’s Heart to working with kids: Boundaries with Teens to Gospel-Centered Kids Ministry. I got actual textbooks like Teaching Social Skills to Youth. I’m trying to find scriptures to back up everything I’m learning and teaching. Lord, You fill the gaps that I didn’t even know were empty. Lord, in loving these kids, You are showing me how much deeper Your love goes. My love fails every single day. No matter much I study and try to prepare, my humanity, my sin, is gonna still be there. But You, Lord, Your love never fails.

I’ve been putting a “verse of the day” on the dry erase board before each shift starts. This weekend one of the verses I put was Matthew 11:28-30 which says: Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Chris Tomlin also has a song about coming to the table and he sings this verse in it.

So, here is my prayer today. I pray for these kids. I pray for these youth. Lord, I’m lifting them up to you. I pray that you teach me, guide me, help me. Lord, I need you. I’m coming to you. I’m bringing it all to you. I’m laying myself down at the cross. Lord, prepare my heart for battle. Prepare me to do your work. Lord, prepare my heart for Kingdom work. Abba Father, thank you for inviting me to the table. Thank you for accepting me as I am, but loving me enough to not leave me the way I came. Lord, I pray that you keep revealing your love and your heart to me. I wanna know you more. God, I pray, I wanna go deeper. I wanna strengthen my relationship with you. Thank you for doing the heavy lifting. Thank you for preparing a feast for me. Thank you for not turning me away. Thank you for restoring me. Thank you for filling my gaps. Thank you for filling my empty places. Thank you for temporary homes and for the eternal place at the table waiting on me. Thank you for sending the Savior to save us all. 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.

Whatever Your will, can You help me find it?

If there was a ever band that knew my heart, it’s Sidewalk Prophets. They somehow have a song for every piece of my heart. Today, as usual Pandora knew what to play and it was “Help Me Find It.”

I was never a traditional student. I have been on the 5 year plan since I got my ACT scores back and my acceptance letter with the extra classes I would have to take. Somewhere along the way that 5 year plan got turned into a 6 year plan. I got the usual comforts like “no one graduates in 4 years anymore.” (Totally not true! More people are taking longer and longer, but there is still a majority that do finish in 4 years! And I loveeeeee getting asked what’s wrong with me and why can’t I finish in 4 years.) My daddy was always nice about it though, as long as I get the degree, he’s happy. (I was not so happy about it sometimes and I sure won’t be when those student loans have to be repaid.) Psalm 37:7-9 says: Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

It’s taking longer in part because I changed my major, in part because life happened, and it might have something to do with that science class I failed my freshman year and had to retake. Maybe I’m thinking about graduation a lot because I just had Fall advising and my advisor asked me what I wanted to do after. Maybe I’m thinking about it because of the lady at church that told me about churches hiring public relations people. Maybe it’s because You’re simply trying to show me something I hadn’t seen yet. Maybe this was all to get me here. Maybe this was so You could open doors I didn’t even know existed. Maybe it was to teach me something. (Probably patience, I needed that one!) Maybe You were holding me until I was ready. Maybe You needed me to wait for something. Maybe You wanted to send me on a different path altogether. (I mean, I did change majors and that was a huge change to my plan! It wasn’t easy either! Tears were shed!) Maybe it’s because Your plan is just so much bigger than my own. Maybe it’s like what the ladies in my bible study talked about on Sunday and I was settling and You have something so much greater planned for me. One of them told us about this poster she saw of this little girl holding onto her tiny little teddy bear and she’s scared to give it to You. What she doesn’t realize is that You are holding a giant new teddy bear behind Your back, just waiting on her to give up the old one. Then another lady shared a story of how this girl had a fake pearl necklace she wore everywhere and she wouldn’t take it off and her daddy was holding a real set of pearls for her.

There was a picture that said: “Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.” Lord, no matter what path I take I hope it brings glory to You.

On Pinterest, there is this picture of a little girl and it says: “Until God opens the next door, praise Him in the hallway.” How much simpler does life need to be explained? That picture got me. I think about it often! Then today, Lysa Terkeurst posted: “We want big directional signs from God. God just wants us to pay attention.” Well ok. You’ve got my attention.

So, that is my prayer today. I pray that I pay attention. I pray that I praise you in the hallway. I pray that I listen to your words. I pray that I go where you want me to go. I pray that I continue to grow in my walk with you. I pray that you lead me and guide me. I pray that I give it all to you. I pray that I give my plans to you. I pray that I give my future to you. I pray that I follow your will. I pray that I use the talents you gave me for your will and your plan and your glory. Thank you for, like the song says, giving me grace when I gave you doubts. Thank you for giving me faith when I gave you fears. Lord, you give me so much more than I could ever dream of or deserve. I pray that I lift my empty hands to you cause you’re all I need. I pray that you fill me up again. Lord, if you’re trying to show me something or show me a different door, I pray that I listen. I pray that I find it. I pray that I follow your plan. I pray that I follow you. I pray that I wait for you. I pray that while I am still, you give me peace. I pray that I guard my heart and what I let into it. I pray that I learn to be content. 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.

It’s like nothing in life that I’ve ever known.

Today, I felt lost. I felt overwhelmed. Like things were happening that were out of my control. I was scared. I didn’t feel safe. I felt like I couldn’t make anyone happy. I felt like nothing I did was enough. I wasn’t working hard enough or studying enough or taking care of people enough. I wasn’t doing enough. I wasn’t enough. Today, I felt defeated. I wanted to cry and hide from the rest of the world. Then I remembered the lesson from Sunday school two weeks ago.

It was about Jonah and I’ve heard the story a million times, but as usual You grabbed hold of my heart and showed me something new. Jonah 3:1-2 says: Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” Jonah was scared and he had good reason. The Ninevites ravaged his village. So, naturally, he ran in the opposite direction, as far as he could. But, You still used him. You still picked him. You never left him. You used his mistake for Your glory. You used Jonah to speak to the people on the boat where he fled. You showed up in that storm. You were working on his heart even when he disobeyed You. You were working on his heart when he ran from You. Even when he hid from You on the boat. And even still when he was in the whale. You never stopped working on his heart.

He went to Nineveh, but he still wasn’t happy about it. He got so mad because You forgave the Ninevites that he said he wanted to die. In Jonah 4:2 he said: I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Then in verses 6-11 it says that Jonah went to basically pout. So, You provided a leafy plant for him to have shade and comfort him. Then You sent a worm to eat the plant and the blazing sun. Jonah again said he wanted to die. Jonah 4:10-11 says: But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” 

Woah now! Way to speak to my heart. I’m getting upset because of what these other people did to me, but You are the one that invested in them and cared for them. You are the one that created them. It’s You that should be the one hurt by their actions and by mine. We are sinners and we fall short, quite frequently. We are never going to be perfect and You love us still. Jonah failed You, the Ninevites failed You, the people that hurt me failed You and I failed You, but You love us anyway. You work on our hearts anyway. You keep preparing us and investing in us and blessing us anyway. You keep using us anyway.

So, that is my prayer today. Thank you for loving us anyway. Thank you for saving us. Thank you for investing in us. Thank you for working on our hearts. Thank you for using us. Thank you for preparing us. I can’t comprehend that kind of unconditional love. I don’t understand how you could send Your son to save me and expect nothing in return. That level of love just doesn’t make sense to me. I keep waiting to see the strings attached or for the cost I have to pay. You already paid the bill though. You saved me. I am completely and utterly in awe of you. I am moved by your grace and your forgiveness and your mercy. Even through my uncertainty you love me. Even through my sin you love me. Even through my weakness you love me. Through everything you love 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.

I want to live like that and give it all I have.

1 Corinthians 16:14 says: “Let all that you do be done in love.” I’ve been thinking a lot about love lately and what it means to love others. I’ve always been a lover, not a fighter. I believe in loving everyone no matter what. “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.” I believe there is a story inside of everyone, we just have to look.

During winter break I watched the Madea Christmas movie, a comment was made that we all bleed red. I absolutely loved that line. A little while ago, Benjamin Watson addressed some of the issues going on as a sin problem. I was so encouraged by his words. I had never thought about it that way. I couldn’t understand why people could have so much hate in their heart for everyone around them. What he said made me realize that sin was the root of the problem.

I’ve been thinking about the kind of person I want to be. Audrey Hepburn said: “For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.” I want that! I want to be loving and giving. I want to be kind and gentle. I want to see the good around me. “Always pray to have eyes that see the best in people, a heart that forgives the worst, a mind that forgets the bad, and a soul that never loses faith in God.” I want to walk with You, Lord. I want to learn from what You’ve taught me. I want to be forgiving because You forgave me. I want to love because You loved me. Dolly Parton said: “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”

“Once you’ve accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you.” I don’t think that loving everyone is a flaw, but some people do. I’ve been told a lot that love is weakness. They said it leaves you naive and open for hurt. I think love is strength and courage. I think love is vulnerable and brave. Ryan Adams said: “There is nothing wrong with loving the crap out of everything. Negative people find their walls. So, never apologize for your enthusiasm. Never. Ever. Never.”

So, that is my prayer today. I pray that I show more love. I pray that I show more kindness. I pray that fill my mind and heart with positive thoughts. I pray that my actions are a reflection of my heart. I pray that I give you all I have. I pray that show your grace and mercy to those around me. I pray that I let my walls down. I pray that I let go of my guard and keep my heart open. I pray that I see your love in everyone I meet. I pray that I keep growing and sharing your 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.

I want to show the world the love You gave for me.

I started watching the show Felicity (you know, way back from my childhood in 1998). At the end of the 6th episode one of the characters says a quote from a W.H. Auden poem:

“If equal affection cannot be, Let the more loving one be me.”

I started thinking about this quote. I really liked it. I like that it could be applied in so many ways. It could be used with people that don’t like you, because we are taught to love our enemies. We are taught to “kill them with kindness.” When I was younger, I thought that was being fake. It didn’t take long into my college experience to realize that being nice to people you don’t like or that don’t like you is part of growing up. Sometimes you simply have to be the bigger person. Sometimes you have to learn to take things that upset you with a grain of salt. You come out a stronger person for it.

My first thought was about the kind of person I wanted to be. I want to love more in friendships, in relationships, and with my family. I want show the world as much love as I can. I want to keep loving even when life gets rough and people try to steal my joy. I want to love without abandon. I want to love without holding back. I want to love without ceasing. I want to always give more than I think I can.

Then I realized that Your love is like that quote. You love us more than we could ever love you. You will always love more. You created us. You created a purpose in us. We are Yours. I want to try to show more love to You and to everyone You created. I want to show more appreciation and gratitude for that love. I want to say thank you. I am not perfect, but You love me anyways. You forgive me, time and time again. You never stop loving me or show me any less love, despite my sins. You show me compassion and understanding. You show me forgiveness and healing. You show me more love than I can even comprehend. I want to love more like You. I want to show more of You. I want to give more of Your love.

So, that is prayer today. I pray that I am more loving in as many ways as possible. I pray that I am more loving to those who don’t show love to me. I pray that I am more loving to my friends and family. I pray that one day I am more loving to my husband. I pray that where ever he is, he is doing well. I pray that I am more loving to you. I pray that I am showing more of your love to others. Thank you for showing me your love. Thank you for loving me even when I don’t deserve it. 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.