You calm the storm when I hear You call my name.

A few weeks ago, I read Sara Evans’ and Rachel Hauck’s Songbird Novel series and it’s about all the relationships in this woman’s life. Between her parents and in-laws and husband, everyone around her. It’s not just another love story, it’s about life and forgiveness and loss and moving forward through the rough patches. The woman in the book is getting married and doesn’t know whether to invite her mom or not. The mom was talking to her friend about it and said there was too much water under the bridge. And this friend with all her wisdom says: “Come to my house tonight. I’ll loan you my canoe.” I burst into tears right there. No matter what water is under all the bridges life has to offer, I’m so glad for the friendships I have and the knowledge that they always have a canoe for me to borrow. They always keep me afloat.

When the people I love are going through a hard time. When they can’t find the light in the tunnel. When all they need is time. When they need peace. When they need what I can’t give. When they have to pull themselves out of the deep places. When they’re drowning and need a canoe. All I can do is encourage and and be there for them. I had to learn the hard way that as much as I would love to do it for them, I cannot live for them. They have to make the decision to pull themselves out. All I can do is offer my canoe. David Ring said: “It’s one thing to show people love. It’s another thing to stick around for the pain.” I’m here and I’m not going anywhere.

Lord, I am not You. I cannot save people. I cannot give them peace. I cannot heal the pain. I cannot do what You do. But I can be Your hands. I can loan them my canoe. Beth Moore said: “God is not afraid of your questions, girlfriend. He wants to stir them up-to send you searching for answers.” I can pray for them and share with them where I find answers, my canoe. Part of Church of the Highlands’ 21 Days of Prayer is the Warfare Prayer and they talked about how in prayer, we can identify the lies so we can quiet those lies and amplify the truth. At the end of the sermon, the pastor said to ask You to: “give us assignments.” Prayer is a two-way conversation. Even when we hear silence, You are working. You are not done with us yet. There’s a quote I found that says: “Having a rough morning? Place your hand over your heart. Feel that? That’s called purpose. You’re alive for a reason.” Lord, sometimes when we feel lost and unloved, the best thing to do is give love. Sam on Touched by an Angel said: “If you can’t find the love, let God love through you.” 

There is purpose for the pain. At Winter Jam, on Friday, we took the youth group and Tenth Avenue North was telling a story about their song: I Have This Hope. They were talking about why we call it Good Friday and how it’s because of what happened on Sunday. That dropped truth way down into the deepest parts of my soul and of my heart. Lord, sometimes we have to go through what we do not understand because we see the world with a limited view point. We see the world around us, but You see the whole world and everything around it. You hold the whole world in Your hands. You hold me in Your hands. You hold them and us and sinners and everyone in Your hands. You call us by name. You created every part of us for a purpose. You never left us.

So, this is my prayer. Thank you for sending your son. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for hope. Thank you for purpose. Thank you for being there in the flood and fire. Thank you for walking with me. Thank you for calling me by name. Thank you for changing my heart. Thank you for lighting the dark. Thank you for canoes. Thank you for your unending love. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for loving through me. Thank you for letting me love others. Thank you for showing me how to stay through the pain. Thank you for questions and answers and two-way communication. Thank you for assignments. Lord, I pray that I keep going, keep moving forward. I pray that I chase after you and loan my canoe to those I love so they can chase you 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.

Hearts open wide, hands lifted high.

I crave security, of all kinds. Financial, emotional, physical, spiritual, the whole kit and caboodle. It took me reading Sara Evan’s and Rachel Hauck’s The Sweet By & By to realize safety isn’t found in money or a place or another person. I’ve been looking for security in all the wrong ways. Lord, the only way I’m safe is in Your arms. I’ve always been safe with You.

The main character in the book is Jade Freedom Fitzgerald. Jade’s middle name was what she needed most. Maybe I’m the same way. I always thought my middle name was Faith because that’s what my parents needed to have me, but I’m learning maybe it’s what I need most.

When Jade was at her wit’s end, they wrote: “When safe places turned off their cell phones. When safe places ran off with musicians. When safe places moved to Washington, D.C., and never looked back. When safe places chose a sport where men wrestle men instead of loving her.” She was looking for her safe place in the people she loved: her fiance, her mom, her dad, her first love. She didn’t find ultimate and eternal safety until she was sitting alone on a bench swing faced with nothing but the truth. In one of the flashbacks, Jade asked: “If true love doesn’t last, and hearts can be broken over and over, what’s the point? Was Jesus for her?” You had been knocking on her heart and edging her closer and closer to the truth. All she had to do, was finally listen. Later they wrote: “The encounter with Jesus didn’t remove all of Jade’s obstacles. Liking Mama might not happen overnight, but being free compelled her to love. And that had to be a real fine place to start.” (Not gonna lie, when I read that I sang that last line because that’s lyrics from Sara’s song.) Lord, being a Christian and following You certainly doesn’t take all the pain away and it’s some magic cure-all pill that solves all our problems. Following You, gives us perspective. Following You, gives us options and choices. We have the freedom to choose You, to choose love, to choose light, to choose peace. I don’t have to be controlled or trapped by sin, I have a way out. I have choices and I can choose to live with purpose. I can hear Jennifer Nettles in my head singing: “we don’t have to live this way.” 

In the book, they wrote about Harlan (Jade’s dad): “Man was not basically good. There was reality called sin. The world needs redemption. He himself needed redemption. Perhaps Jesus was the only true escape. In his twenty years in Washington, he’d seen what man could do. Dark, evil, selfish. Fed up, Harlan was curious to see what God could do.” Lord, I was taught growing up about the miracles You’ve done. As I grew up, I’ve seen what You can do with my own eyes. Lord, it’s time my heart listens to what my head already knows.

So, this is my prayer today. Lord, forgive for searching so long what you had already given me. Lord, I pray I’m figurin’ out what love really means. I pray givin’ you my heart, is a real fine place to start. I pray you keep callin’. I pray that I know you are stronger than any fear or doubt. Lord, you are changin’ everything I see. I pray that it’s changin’ me. I pray that I never stop looking to see what all you’re doing. I pray I’m always looking for your miracles around me. I pray that I am listening when you’re speaking to my heart. I pray that I am compelled to love. I pray that I take every advantage of your way out of sin. I pray that I remember you gave me options. I pray that I remember you gave me freedom. I pray that I know deep in my heart that I do not have to live that way and I can choose you. I pray that I know you are for me. I pray that I know you are my safe place. I pray that every fiber of my being knows that you will never run away, you’re forever mine, you’re by my side, you forever shine. I pray my life verse keeps changing my heart this month and long after. I pray you keep teaching me that verse. I pray that I apply it to my life. I pray that I trust in your unfailing love. I pray my heart rejoices in your salvation. 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.