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.

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We’ve all found ourselves worn out from the same old fight.

Yesterday, I went through a whirlwind of emotions. I was all kinds of emotional. This morning, I woke up, looked outside and decided to do things differently today. I always carry books with me, I went into my bag and grabbed the devotion book. I needed to spend some time with You. I was in desperate need of You this morning. I found the book laying around the house, it was one my mom read with some people from church a while back, Stuck study. Eight sessions on “the places we get stuck and the God who sets us free.”

Lord, You knew exactly what You were doing when I found that book. You knew exactly when I needed to open that first page. You knew exactly when I would need You the most. And I definitely needed You today. My friend and I were joking and she messaged me and said: “This is all I need! No man!” and sent a picture of her pizza. I responded with a moment of honesty: “Jesus. That’s what I need.” Then things got serious. She replied with this: “I need…..1. A man 2. Hope 3. To know I matter 4. Everything else you could think of 5. Oh and I’ve ran away from God so I prob need him”

Lord, I could’ve cried right there. I’ve been there. I’ve been in her shoes. I’ve lost my worth. I’ve run as far away from You as I possibly could. The funny thing about running from You though is You’re still there and our problems are too. Running doesn’t make our problems go away and it certainly doesn’t make us feel better. In the Stuck study, I read: “Nothing is more powerful than God getting bigger in our lives. He has the power to heal with a word.” On Pinterest there is a picture that says: “God is making things happen for you. Even when you don’t see it, even when you can’t feel it, even if it’s not evident. God is working on your prayers.”

Ok. So. Here goes. Ernest Hemingway said: “We are all broken, that’s how the light gets in.” I’m letting the light. Lord, I’m letting You all the way in. As for number 1, Charles Stanley said: “Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on what we are waiting for.” I have been praying for my future husband since my mama taught me how to pray. I saw this Instagram post that said: “I pray for him even though he doesn’t know about it because I wanna make sure God got him like I got him.” There was another one on Instagram saying: “Dear Future Husband, Find God. Find yourself. Then come find me.” Lord, maybe that’s what we both needed a reminder of today. Lord, I value love. I value him and I haven’t even been on a date yet. I value our relationship and it hasn’t even started yet. And most importantly, I value the relationship he has with You. That’s why I pray for him. I found You before I can even remember. I dedicated my life to You in the second grade and I have remade that commitment several times in my life. I started finding myself when I was a freshman in high school and I don’t know if either search ever really ends. I hope I’m always trying to find You in everything around me and I hope I never stop growing.

Number 2, 3, and 4, I believe those are found in faith. Proverbs 31 Ministries posted Whitney Capps saying: “Father, when my circumstances scream louder than my faith, help me cling to Your truth.” Lord, I tend to listen to the world when things are not going my way. But the truth is that faith is trust. Trust is something I struggle with daily. Trust means relying on You. Trust means giving up control. Trust means I am dependent on You. Trust means changing the way I think, feel, grow, live. Trust means giving my life to You completely. Trust means letting go. Letting go of the pain, resentment, hurt, sin, jealously, anger, brokenness. Trust means laying it all down and picking up the cross. You already did the hard part. You picked up everything I laid down. You died for me. All I have to do is lay down, what You already picked up. The first step is admitting I need You. The study said: “The space in which we are stuck, lacking, sinful, broken, and in need, is the space in us that longs for God, longs for forgiveness. When we soberly view ourselves and our sin, we see our need and call out for God.”

Number 5 hit me right in the heart because I run daily. I spent years running and I still try to run. In the study it says: “Before time began He knew people would rebel and run from Him, and He made a way to get them back in Christ.” My sweet friend is running from You. I ran from You. And still You hold Your hand out for us. Still You love us. We are the prodigal children. No matter how far we run, You arms are still open. Steven Furtick tweeted: “Fulfillment doesn’t start with getting what we want. It starts with wanting what God wants.” Romans 8: 14-15 says For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Stuck study said: “God will win this fight, but we have to start fighting it His way, on His terms.” 

At the end of the first chapter it asks: “Who are You, Lord? and What do You want from me?” Lord, I have spent so long asking the second question that I forget the first part. I grew up in the church, learning about You and Your stories, but I need to get to know You as an adult. I need You in my life. I need Your word in my life. Thomas Jefferson said: “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.”

So, that is my prayer today. Lord, I pray that I hang on. I need you. I need your word. I need to run towards you and not away. I pray that I keep longing for you. I pray that I keep seeking you. I pray that I keep evaluating my life. I pray that I start making some changes in my life. I pray that I lay everything down. I pray that I pick up the cross. Lord, you already picked it up. I pray that I quit picking back up what I already laid down. I pray that I stop fighting you and let you fight for me. I pray that I stop rebelling. I pray that I want what you want. I pray that your love washes over me and changes me. I pray that I remember I am your child. I pray that I remember I don’t have to live like this. I pray that I don’t live in fear again. I pray that I cling to your truth. I pray that my faith screams louder than my circumstances. I pray that you become bigger in my life and my friend’s life. Lord, I pray you speak to her. I pray you keep knocking on the door to her heart. I pray that she sees her worth in you. I pray that she finds healing in your name. I pray for my future husband. I pray he finds you, finds himself and then finds me. I pray that he knows he is valued. I pray that you got him. I pray that you got my friend. And I pray that you got me too. 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 learn to love through the darkness and the light.

There is an episode of Girl Meets World that I was reminded of today. Riley got depressed and Maya was trying to pull her out of it. Maya pulled down her black curtains and Riley said: “Wow, there is a lot of light in this world.” Maya sat down next to her and replied: “If you let it in, yea.” 

Today, I needed to let the light in. My daddy always tried to teach me that everyone has good days and bad days. We have to learn to let the sunshine in. We have to learn to fight the darkness, instead of letting it consume us. I struggle with this, always have. I still need to remember that You have this. No matter how dark it seems, there will always be light, I just have to turn the light on. 2 Samuel 22:29 says: You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light. Eric Lidell said: “Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins.” Lord, every part of my struggle and my success is part of your plan. You are not helpless among the ruins. When I realize I can’t do this on my own, is when I finally hand over the reins and allow You to work. I’m stubborn and try to fix everything on my own, but I don’t have to and Your ways are much greater than my own. 

Lysa Terkeurst yet again related to me on a deep level. She posted: “If you’re anything like me, when you feel broken down, those around you get your worst. Then upon all the hurt and brokenness, you layer regret, shame and the feeling that you’ve lost yourself. You’ve lost the girl inside who used to be so positive and happy and ready to take on the world. Can I whisper a tender truth to you? The only way to recapture her is to come up for air and remember: you are worthy because the Creator of the Universe says you are. Reclaim who you are today. Say out loud, ‘I am a daughter of the King. I am an overcomer. And with His strength, I can be whole again.'” Lysa also posted that her battle strategy is to worry less and worship more. Dayspring posted on Instagram that: “The measure of your worth to God is written in the palms of His hands.”

C.S. Lewis said: “I believe in Christ like I believe in the sun-not because I can see it, but by it I can see everything else.” That’s why I like the sun so much. It’s a reminder of faith. He also said: “Faith is the art of holding on to things in spite of your changing moods and circumstances.”

There’s a saying that goes something like this: “Ships don’t sink because of the water around them. Ships sink because of the water that gets in them.” Steven Furtick posted: “You won’t rise to the occasion if you weren’t faithful to the process.” Before I came back home, my person told me that too. She told me that she got a lot closer to You when she moved back home after her graduation.

So, that is my prayer today. No matter what my circumstances are, I pray that I stop letting the darkness win. I pray that I stop letting the water in my ship. I pray that I remember I am a vessel for you. I pray that I stop letting myself drown. I pray that I come up for air. I pray that I keep turning the light on. I pray that I keep reaching for you. I pray that I remember you are my lamp, my light, my sun. I pray that I show more kindness in my process. I pray that learn to love in the darkness and the light. I pray that I let you work in me. I pray that I remind myself that you are the creator of the universe. I pray that I remember to say thank you for showing me my worth. I pray that I reclaim who I am. I am your daughter. You are my king. I am an overcomer because you overcame. Lord, you overcame death. You overcame sin. You overcame darkness. With your strength, I can be whole again. I pray that I worship you more. Thank you for writing my name on the palm of your hands. Thank you for bringing light into my day. Thank you for bringing light into my darkness. Thank you for allowing me to see through you. Thank you for allowing me to hold onto you in sprite of my changing moods and circumstances. Thank you for allowing me to grow closer to you. Thank you for this time. Thank you for this process. Thank you for always holding true. I pray that I stay with you. I pray that I remember you are on my side. 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.