You are the well that never runs dry.

A sweet preacher in Mobile teaches that You love us too much to leave us the way we are. Ever since I heard those words, it has become more and more evident in my life. Last Sunday afternoon, the message was on the Holy Spirit and how we were born with a hole in us and a need for Jesus. I’ve heard before that we have a Jesus sized hole and we try to fill it with everything else and it never fits right. I’ve experienced it too. I know the pain of trying to make myself whole on my own. I can’t do it and no one can do it for me. The only one that can make me whole is You, Lord. I’ve been thinking about the message and rereading my notes all week.

In college, I saw a lot of thriving, but also settling, for relationships, for majors, for jobs. I saw people go out every single week and come back feeling worse than they left. I saw people hold onto any semblance of a relationship, no matter how toxic or wrong for each other they were. I saw people struggling so hard in classes and careers they didn’t even want. I saw people lose or give up on majors and careers they spent their whole lives wanting. I saw a lot of hurt and pain. Taylor Swift’s song Bad Blood was supposed to be about stickin it to the mean girl or whatever. And I jam out pretty hard, every single time it comes on. But when I really sit down and listen to the lyrics, I realize how truly, deeply sad it is. I saw a lot of bad blood in college, and even had some myself. My relationship with You allows me to be set apart from some of that heartache because I deal with it by taking it You, learning from it, and letting it go without it consuming me. I learned in college, that not everyone has that relationship with You and some of them are truly, madly lost and searching for things to fill their God shaped hole and coming up empty. I learned in college that “Band-aids don’t fix bullet holes.”

In the sermon, the pastor told us we have a spiritual hunger that has a voice like a growl and the more we feast on You, the more hungry we become, the more we crave it. He said we can’t stay the way we are, that only You can satisfy us. I just read The Goodbye Bride by Denise Hunter, in literally two days. I mean, from the first page, I was almost in tears and completely captivated. I couldn’t put the book down. The story came down to a couple who didn’t handle things by taking them to You, they tried to handle them on their own. Both fled. Both left. They lived Toby Mac’s lyrics: “I’d be packin’ my bags when I need to stay.” When they found each other again, they learned to take things to You in the process.

When we are kids, we are taught that voice in our head, showing us right from wrong, is our conscience. It is our own little Jiminy Cricket living in our head. I think it’s more than that though. The closer we move to You, the more clearly You speak to us. I believe that You use signs, signals, people, doors, windows, walls, roadblocks, whatever You need to speak to our hearts. Sometimes it’s obvious. Sometimes we have to slow down and be still so we can listen. In The Goodbye Bride, Denise wrote: Help me, God. Something pulled inside. Something she’d never felt before. A hard tug in her spirit, telling her to stay.” That girl had never known anything but running. Running is all she had ever been taught or knew how to do. Later she wrote: “But there was a God who loved her enough to give her courage in the face of her fear. I will never leave you nor forsake you.

So, this is my prayer today. Lord, I was so deep, so incomplete til’ you rescued me. I pray that you are mine and I am Yours. Thank you for rescuing me. I pray that I am yours forever. Thank you for saving me, remaking me. Thank you for changing me. Thank you for loving me too much to leave me as I am. Thank you for healing my heart. Thank you for being the well that never runs dry. Thank you for allowing me to come to you. Thank you for opening your arms for me. Thank you for leading me to you. Thank you for calling me home when I go astray. Thank you for sending people and signs to bring me back to you. Thank you for being deep enough for every soul. Thank you for speaking directly to me and to my life and to my heart. Thank you for never leaving or forsaking me. Thank you for showing me love despite my fear. 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 I’m alright, I’m okay.

I just heard this song that completely related to my life. The song is Downside Of Growing Up. The song starts talking about how hard it is leaving your mama. Well, to be honest, I’m graduating in May, so I’m pretty used to crying as I leave my mama. It really doesn’t get easier leaving, you just also create a home in college, so it makes it hard to leave here too. College pulls your heart in so many different directions, sometimes it’s hard to find all the pieces. This summer, I said good-bye to my mama and moved into a house with a couple of roommates. I love the freedom. I can have candles and there’s no RA coming to check to see if my trash is piled up or if the fire alarm works, again. The downside is there is no more of the really nice maintenance men coming to fix things for me. I have to fix things myself. So, I went into Lowe’s and I figured out what I needed and tried to replace that toilet handle myself. The first time was a bust and to be honest, I wanted my daddy to come fix it for me. The downside is he is 5 hours away so, I had to go back to Lowe’s. The second time was a success. I have never been more proud to fix something in my whole life. Ok. I get it. It’s like a $7 replacement and it was like super easy to do, but I did it all on my own. Ok. It was a big step into the adult world for me.

Then this morning was less than stellar. I started by missing my classes because I was in a car accident. I was on time this morning and I was looking cute, like everything was going good, until it wasn’t. The downside of growing up was that my parents were 5 hours away. The truth is, as bleak as the morning looked, I felt this overwhelming sense of peace. So, because I love lists: Here is a list of blessings for today:

  1. My daddy was on the phone with me the whole time, reminding me to breathe. He is usually a complete softy, ok. I don’t care what all the stories say about how tough or strong or he was or how he used to be like the best football player ever, ok. The man braided my hair and drove me to every single club meeting, event, performance, and cried like a baby every single time he was proud of me, which was every time I breathed. When Gary Allen sings Tough Little Boys, he is singing about my daddy. This morning however, that was the strongest man I’ve ever known. His reassurance held me together.
  2. There was a Bible in the ER room, so I could turn to Isaiah 43:2.
  3. My person dropped everything to be by my side, the moment I called her and she stayed right there by me the whole day. She texted my mom updates. She stood by me as they towed my car away. She stood by me in the ER. She stood by me while I waited on prescriptions. She stood by me at home too, just to make sure I was ok. She was everything I needed and more.
  4. In the X-Ray room, there is a dry erase board. Written on that board is Psalm 86:7 which says: In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.
  5. When the insurance claims man called, he started by saying he was an Alum of South Alabama, Go Jags. I hope me knows how fabulous that was to hear.
  6. My little was beyond thoughtful. She stood by me in the ER in between classes. Then she brought me dinner, AmeriCone Dream ice cream for later, and breakfast for tomorrow. She texted my littles and grandlittles to let them know I was safe.
  7. My lovely Alpha Gam sister serenaded me Shake It Off. It meant more to me than words can explain.
  8. My roommate looked at me when she got home and said you look like you need a hug. I most certainly did.

I might have started this morning thinking I was going to see the downside of growing up, but I felt pretty blessed instead.

So, that is my prayer today. While the song says your dad ain’t there to get you unstuck, thank you for making sure that wasn’t true for me. Thank you for my daddy’s strength and kindness today. Thank you for making sure that you, my heavenly father, will always be there to get me unstuck. Thank you giving me a daddy to teach me that. Thank you for the many wonderful people that took care of me at the accident, in the er, in the line to get my prescription, and everywhere I went today. Thank you for the lady, when I called 911, that told me to just breathe. I pray for all of them. They were so kind and extremely patient with me. Thank you for my sisters for taking care of me. Thank you for Psalm 86:7 and the fact that I can call out to you when I’m scared. Thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone in more ways than one today. Thank you for the downside of growing up. Thank you teaching me and guiding me. Thank you for leading me. Thank you for reminding me how blessed I am. 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.

All that I need is to be with You and in the quiet hear Your voice.

I started my finals week early on Wednesday, when I was finishing a couple of last things for my Thursday presentation, by reading Colossians 3:23 which says: Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men. After reading that I immediately felt empowered and ready to get to work. I mean, I was literally excited to finish. I had been staring at my presentation stuff for what seemed like an eternity without making any substantial headway and then after reading that verse, I finished my presentation within half an hour.

I was still excited after two more full long days of studying for my next final and then today happened. I took one of my marketing finals. When the test started and I heard literally 50 other people slamming down on their keyboards, I got overwhelmed. So, I remembered the verse and focused. I felt accomplished coming out of it. So, I took an hour break. During that break I was told that I was mediocre. I am a big fan of words, but not this one. Mediocre is defined by Google as: “of only moderate quality; not very good.” Synonyms for mediocre are: ordinary, average, middle-of-the-road, uninspired, undistinguished, indifferent, unexceptional, unexciting, unremarkable, run-of-the-mill, pedestrian, prosaic, lackluster, forgettable, amateur, amateurish, OK, so-so, plain-vanilla, fair-to-middling, no great shakes, not up to much.

The first synonym is what got me. Like what is this, Grey’s Anatomy? I am not ordinary. I am Meredith Grey extraordinary. The next one that got me was uninspired. I am anything but that! I had to look up prosaic, in all honesty. It means: lacking poetic beauty or commonplace. That’s just rude. And excuse me? No great shakes?!? I can dance to Shake It Off with the best of them! In fact, I might be the most embarrassing dancer in the room when that song comes on, but I can also guarantee my smile is the biggest and brightest. Taylor would be proud. I had that verse with me the whole week until I took a break. Then I got distracted and I was momentarily knocked out of the game zone. I went to grab dinner with my little and on the way back to the student center to continue studying this song came on the radio.

So, here is my prayer today. I pray that I listen to you more. I pray that I listen your verse more. I pray that I really apply that verse to my life. I pray that I do everything I do for you. I pray that I let go of what everyone else’s opinion is. I pray that you speak in my life. I pray that I let go of all the other noises. I pray that I let my life become so quiet that all I hear is you. I pray that I get right back to that game zone and get right back to studying because you aren’t finished with me yet. You have a plan for my life and nothing you do is mediocre. Lord, I pray that I just listen to you and your word. I pray that I lay everything else down. 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 keeping my eyes open.

“Holding grudges. Judging others. Hating. Wanting to cause harm. Withholding forgiveness. Gossiping. Ridiculing. Ignoring others. Withholding mercy. Throwing stones. Stop it.” Dieter F Uchtdorf said that. He makes it sound so simple. Just stop. Stop letting others have control over you. Stop letting others affect you. TobyMac posted: “You don’t have to attend every argument you are invited to.” Wow. Why didn’t someone tell me this when I was growing up? Oh wait, my mama did. A rule of being a lady is: “The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. And the first to forget is the happiest.” She tried to tell me over and over to be the bigger person, to let it go. (And boyyy did she try.) I didn’t listen though. When I was growing up, this girl did not like me, no matter what I did. The more she didn’t like me, the more I wanted to be her friend. I had this incessant need for everyone to like me. I tried to find approval where I was never going to get it. One day, I let my friend tell me that I needed to stand up for myself. So, she wrote this awful letter to the girl and I signed it. I knew right then and there that I never should have done it, but I did it anyways. I even felt proud of myself for it. Now looking back, I regret the letter so much. I didn’t understand the person who was always so mean to me. I didn’t see her side. I didn’t handle it the way I should. I stooped to her level. I was just as guilty. “The true mark of maturity is when somebody hurts you and you try to understand their situation instead of trying to hurt them back.” That is a lesson I’ve definitely learned in college. There are always going to be mean people in the world that don’t like you and they will give you a list of why they don’t like you. I probably will never change their minds or their hearts, but I can certainly change mine. I can’t control their actions or thoughts, but I can control mine. I can control my reaction. Luke 6:45 talks about how the words we speak are what fills our hearts. I can control my words and my heart. Colossians 3:13 says: “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” 

“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. If you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

It always shocks me when people hurt me and I lash out because I’m not prepared. Elizabeth Gilbert wrote: “You need to learn to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate.” I need to keep my eyes open. I need to learn how to react better. Tony A Gaskins Jr. said: “Never speak from a place of hate, jealously, anger or insecurity. Evaluate your words before you let them leave your lips.” I have the power to decide what kind of person I want to be. I have the power to decide how I react. I hear, all the time, things like: “The less you respond to negative people, the more peaceful your life will become.” “When you can’t forgive someone, pray for them. It may or may not change them, but it will always change you.” “If you spend time praying for people instead of talking about them, you’ll get better results.” “Forgiveness doesn’t excuse their behavior. Forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart.” Maybe now I’ll learn to listen. I need to learn to how to let things go and how to forgive. I need to learn that my happiness is important and lashing out doesn’t make me a better person or a happier one.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

So, that is my prayer today. I pray that I stop all those things. I pray that I stop giving others control over my life. I pray that I stop letting them win. I pray I learn from my mistakes. I pray that I stop stooping to their level. I pray that I stop reacting and start praying. I pray that I keep my focus on you. I pray that I keep my eyes open. I pray that I keep my heart open. I pray that I learn to let the past go. 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 the prayer in an empty room.

Yesterday, was not my finest. It was one thing after another that messed up. I was riding in the car and on the radio some guy was telling a story and told this person that sometimes the Devil throws punches because you’re special. It reminded of a part in a Taylor Swift song: “People throw rocks at things that shine.” Sometimes people hurt our feelings. What matters is how we react. Michael Jordan said: “If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, then you never will change the outcome.” Lord, we can’t control what others do or say to us, but we can control what we say and do. Trent Shelton said: “You’ll never be enough to somebody who can’t recognize your worth. You can’t make them see what they choose to stay blind to.” There is no point in concentrating on what others see in us. What is important is what You in us.

When I got home, on my desk was this quote I had written down a while ago. It said: “It’s ok to be a glow stick, sometimes we need to break before we shine.” Lord, sometimes we need the bad days to remind us how good the good days are or so we can be reminded that there is still good in the bad days. Sometimes, we need to fall on our knees before You in order to realize what’s important. Taylor Swift said: “There’s a fire inside of you that can’t help but shine through.” Even on our bad days we can still shine for You.

In a conference, I attended, where Hannah Brencher was speaking, she read this quote that has stuck with me. “Bless me with enough foolishness to believe that I can make a difference in the world; so that I can do what others claim cannot be done.” I loved that so much! Lord, You are teaching me to be more and do more, every single day.

Max Lucado said: “Live in such a way that the world will be glad you did.” Changing the world doesn’t take much. All people have to do is change their thoughts which will change their actions. Margaret Mead said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” All it takes to change the world is really quite simple, just show more kindness. All we have to do is show a little more love. All we have to do is show a little more of the love and kindness that You showed us.

So, that is my prayer today. I pray that I learn to show more kindness. I pray that I am nicer to those around me. I pray that I am more patient and forgiving. I pray that I am more compassionate and encouraging. Thank you for holding me up. Thank you for giving me my special gifts and talents. I pray that I use them for your will. I pray that I show more of you. I pray that I remember even the smallest acts of kindness can make a big difference. 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 greater is the One living inside of me.

Taylor Swift wrote this letter to her fan that was being bullied back in September. I saved the link because I really liked what Taylor said in the letter and thought I would want to reread it one day. I was right. This is the letter:

“Reading this made me so sad because I love seeing you in your videos and photos being so happy and wide eyed, like the world isn’t as harsh and unfair as it actually is. I hate thinking about your pretty face covered in tears, but I know why you’re crying because I’ve been in your place. This isn’t a high school thing or an age thing. It’s a people thing. A life thing. It doesn’t stop. It doesn’t end or change. People cut other people down for entertainment, amusement, out of jealousy, because of something broken inside them. Or for no reason at all.

It’s just what they do, and you’re a target because you live your life loudly and boldly. You’re bright and joyful and so many people are cynical. They won’t understand you and they won’t understand me. But the only way they win is if your tears turn to stone and make you bitter like them. It’s okay to ask why. It’s okay to wonder how you could try so hard and still get stomped all over. Just don’t let them change you or stop you from singing or dancing around to your favorite song.

You’re going into high school this week and this is your chance to push the reset button on how much value you give the opinion of these kids, most of whom have NO idea who they are. I’m so proud of you and protective of you because you DO. If they don’t like you for being yourself, be yourself even more.

Every time someone picks on me, I’ll think of you in the hopes that every time someone picks on you, you’ll think of me…and how we have this thread that connects us. Let them keep living in the darkness and we’ll keep walking in the sunlight. Forever on your side, Taylor.”

People are unnecessarily mean sometimes. People will try to cut you down or break you. People will hurt you. They will leave you out. They will tell you all your flaws. They will belittle you and tell you that you are inadequate. No matter what you do, people will always find something to criticize. I heard this quote once: “You may think your only choices are to swallow your anger or throw it in someone’s face. There’s a third option: You can just let it go, and only when you do that, is it really gone and you can move forward.” To be honest, I struggle with this. I get bitter and I take things personally. I take their words and actions straight to heart.

On the radio, the other day, was a new Mercy Me song called Greater.

Lord, You are greater than all my doubt. You are greater than all my bitterness. You are greater than my fears of inadequacy. You are greater than all my flaws. You are greater than all the bad in the world. You are greater than any battle I could ever win or lose.

So, that is my prayer today. I pray that I remember that you are greater. I pray for the mean people. I pray they find love and peace. I pray they learn to spread more kindness than hatred. I pray for the girl that Taylor wrote this letter for. I pray that tomorrow she has a wonderful day. I pray for Taylor. I pray she keeps writing letters like these. I pray she keeps inspiring people to walk in the sunshine rather than the darkness. I pray that I remember not to let the darkness control me. I pray that you lead me, Lord. I pray that I try to walk with you more. I pray that I grow closer to 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.

We are one body.

When I was a kid, we used to sing this song in church. We would all hold hands across the pews and sing our hearts out. It’s one of my favorite memories. We did it practically every Sunday, which made me totally happy. I felt empowered after and ready to go out into the world. I have tried to find the song everywhere. All I can remember is “we are one body.” It made so much sense to me that we were one body. We were extensions of You. We were Your hands and feet. We were sent here to share Your love. What I like most is that we are one body. We are united through You. Philippians 4:13 says: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Casting Crowns has a similar song.

Colossians 3:15 says: “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” So, since it’s Thanksgiving. Here is what I’m thankful for:

1. My family, my friends, my sisters, my person, my soulmate, my littles, and all the lovely people in my life.

2. The University of South Alabama and all the wonderful people that work there.

3. My country, the great state of Alabama, and all the brave men and women in uniform.

4. Country music and southern accents.

5. Albert, my beautiful car.

6. The Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation and all the amazing people contributing to the world’s work.

7. Faith, Hope, and Love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 says: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

8. Taylor Swift for showing me it’s ok to dance everywhere you go and fall in love with everyone you meet.

9. Hannah Brencher for inspiring me to bring more love to the world.

10. Miranda Lambert for showing me how to be strong and kind at the same time.

11. Dolly Parton for showing me how to stay humble and have big hair.

12. My life. I’m thankful that I’m here and I get to continue to use my talents and gifts for You.

So, that is my prayer. I pray that you use me. I pray that we are one body. I pray that your arms are reaching. I pray that your hands are healing. I pray that your words are teaching. I pray that your feet are going. I pray that your love is showing them the way. I pray that I use Psalm 119:105, which is: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” I pray that I keep listening to you. I pray that I keep seeing you. Thank you for sending your son for us. Thank you for giving me life. Thank you for making me who I am. I pray that I use the talents and gifts you gave me to bring glory to you. I pray that I show more love. I pray that I show more kindness. I pray that I show more compassion. I pray that I show more generosity. I pray that I continue to be thankful for everything around 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.