I bow down to pray, I try to make the worst seem better.

I was thinking the other day about prayer. I wondered how prayer changes things if You’re all knowing and You already planned it all out. Then today I was hit with some wisdom. Knowledge I already had but shown to me in a different way. You’re all knowing so You knew I was going to pray for help long before I even knew there was a problem. You showed up before the storm ever hit. You showed up before the wreckage, before the rain, before the wind, before the sun rolled away and the dark clouds came out. You showed up before James Spann told us to take shelter.

Now this particular storm might be a metaphor for my life but You showed up before the metaphorical storm or the physical one. You knew my heart before I had one. You knew my prayers before I had a voice. You knew my thoughts before I had a brain. You knew the path I would take before I could walk. Ohhhhh Lord I could sing of Your love forever. You knew exactly what I was going to do with my life. You were just waiting on me to catch up. You knew I was going to stay before I even knew there was a choice to stay or go. Just when I think I know everything You show me something I hadn’t seen before. I heard once: “where ever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.” Lord, when I pray it gives me hope, it brings the rainbow after the rain, and the sun during the storm. You give me one good reason to stay when I try to give you a hundred million reasons to walk away.

Christian Cuevas might not have made it to the finals on The Voice but Lord you had a plan for him long before he even thought to audition. You gave him a million reasons to sing and he chose to sing for You because You are soo good. He was perfectly placed to bring glory to You, just like I am perfectly placed to bring glory to You. Lord nothing is without You. Nothing is without Your plan or knowledge or divine intervention. Every single thing is connected to You. Nothing is random. Every single thing is planned by You in ways that defy words.

Here is my prayer. Lord, today I’m not asking for anything. Today I am in complete worship of you. I am in complete awe of you. Lord, I give you my life. I give it all to you. Thank you for listening to my prayers. Thank for you hearing my heart. Thank you for guiding my path. Thank you for showing me the way. Thank you for finding one good reason to love me when I give you a million reasons not to. Thank you for giving me a purpose. Thank you for free will and for your crafted plan. Thank you for connecting the dots. Thank you for believing in me when I can’t find my faith. Thank you for showing up long before the storm. Thank you for intentional planning. Thank you for eternity designs and decisions. You placed me in the right place at the right time with the right people. Lord, every move was perfectly crafted to bring glory to you. Thank you for perfect placement at perfect timing. Thank you for showing me the light in the dark. Thank you for peace. Thank you for rainbows after rain. Thank you for sunshine during storms. Thank you for hope. Thank you for changing my heart. Thank you for giving me one good reason to stay. Thank you for making the worst seem better. 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.

When I have no words left to say, just lift it up and sing it out.

When I was a kid, everyone ran around the playground saying: “I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.” That was the automatic response of a bunch of first graders when something mean was said. If someone had only told me how much truth was in that, despite hollering on a playground not being the best way to handle things. But sometimes when people say mean things to you, it reflects more on their character than it does yours.

Other times, we can do 100 things right and then one comment made without thinking can hurt real deep. Sometimes, the very people we hold closest can hurt us, even if that wasn’t their intention at all. Sometimes, we have to learn to let things go. We have to be strainers, keeping all the good stuff and letting the messy stuff slip through. Holding onto the messy stuff, is just gonna make us messy too. Drowning in the messy stuff is not going to help anything. It is our job to love and sometimes that means forgiving even when we really don’t want to. We are real quick to forgive ourselves for saying something off the cuff, without thinking. When others do it to us, it is a little harder. Orrrr there’s me and its hard to forgive myself or anyone else. I’m working on both. Lord, You taught us to love because You are love. You loved us first. Before we were even a thought in this world. Long before those playground days.

I’ve heard people say that we take Your teachings through a strainer too. We retain the stuff we like and pay no attention to what we don’t wanna keep. I believe and have been taught time after time that if we do what Luke 10:27 says then the rest will fall into place. Luke 10:27 says He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” I heard in a sermon once: “the Bible was right when it was written and it’s still right today. It doesn’t ever need to be revised.” That preacher also said: “the word is living and breathing in us.” Lorddddd. It’s so crazy to me that I can remember one verse I heard as a kid or something I heard one time in a sermon, but I can’t even remember what I had for dinner two days ago. Then again, DC Talk taught me how to be one of those crazy Christians back in those playground days. Lord, You are living in us. If we would only stop and listen for Your voice.

So, here is my prayer today. I pray that I listen to your words. I pray that I listen to your teaching. I pray that I love you with all my heart and all my soul and all my strength and all my mind. I pray that I love my neighbor as myself. I pray that I sing for you, Lord. I pray that I forgive myself and those around me. I pray that I get away from all the noise. I pray that I listen to you above all else. I pray that I hear your voice. I pray that I live for you and you alone. Lord, I pray that I worship you because nothing else matters. I pray that I let your truth soak down deep into my bones. I pray that your voice is louder than my own thoughts and louder than my own heartbeat. I pray that all the noise fades away. I pray that I find peace in the quiet. I pray that I find you in the quiet. I pray that my one desire is to worship 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.

I hold on and on and on and on and on.

It’s no secret I have had some slight issues with my car this year. I take full responsibility for last semester, but not this weekend. This time it was out of my control. First it was the belt, then the battery, then we found out the real issue: the alternator.

I am completely fine under pressure. I can handle anything thrown my way. Except that Dodge Nitro. I have no idea what that thing is doing. It is so far out of my wheel of understanding, that it is just sad and pathetic. I am fully capable of taking care of myself, until it comes to dealing with that car. I turn into a crying puddle. I immediately turn into a child and only want my daddy.

I tried to handle it myself. I took it to the mechanic. I was sitting in the waiting room when another mechanic came inside for a water and started making small talk. To be honest, I was in panic mode and couldn’t even hold the conversation. I was glad he just kept talking and I was able to just smile and nod, even though I was holding back tears. Then he started  talking about You, Lord. I started listening a whole lot harder. He said something about how the Devil comes after you when you’re weak and can take the hit. He said when you’ve got the foundation and you’ve got Jesus under you, it’s harder to take you down. That’s some deep stuff for the waiting room.

I know I have the foundation, but sometimes I don’t trust the foundation not to shake underneath me. When Hollyn and Tru sing: “Yeah man, I got issues, I can’t even lie”, I relate to that so much. I jam out to that one line more than any other. My trust issues have trust issues, but I’m trying to work on it.

Today, I was cleaning my room and starting the beginning stages of packing. Leaving college is proving to be a much harder transition than I thought for and my to-do list gets longer every day. I found this narrative essay I wrote in like the 10th grade. Why I even have this in a box of papers at college with me, is beyond me. I am a hoarder. I keep literally everything, but I got rid of an entire trash bag full of things today, so that is progress right? My little said no, that I need to get rid of about 3 or 4 bags full. Ok, so, I’m taking baby steps in my moving process.

Anyways, the narrative was about this girl who was falling in love which was pretty much what all my stories were about back then. Part of the essay was so bad, it was laughable. I mean I literally laughed out loud. The story was also about her trusting You and Your plan. She was lost and had no idea what was happening in her life and what direction her life was going. What I thought was an essay about a girl falling in love, was about her relationship with You. The story was so much bigger than what my little 16-year old self could even fathom and I had no idea how much I would relate to it now, as I am getting ready for my college graduation. Well, not the love story part because that is not even close to my life right now, but the learning to trust You part.

I relate to the girl now more than I ever thought possible back then. So, I’m gonna hold on to that story. I am gonna hold on to a little bit of the 16-year old girl who wrote the story. I am gonna hold on to the 16-year old girl who was bold enough to write down her dreams. I’m also gonna hold on to the confidence I found in college to actually share those dreams. I am gonna hold on to the foundation that I have in You. I am gonna hold on to the fact that You have carried me through all the good days and the bad. I am gonna hold on to the knowledge that I am never alone. I am gonna hold on to the relationship I’ve built with You. I’m gonna hold on to all that You have taught me and are continuing to teach me.

So, here is my prayer today. I pray that I hold on. I pray that I hold onto who I was and who I am and who I will be. I pray that I hold on to my family and my loved ones. I pray that I hold on to my foundation in you. I pray that I hold on to the things I believe in. I pray that I hold on to that story. I pray that I continue to write that story. I pray that I finish that story. I pray that I hold on to my dreams even when they change. I pray that I hold on to trust in you. I pray that I hold on to you. I pray that I hold on to the words written in red. I pray that I hold on to your teachings. I pray that I hold on to your lessons. I pray that I hold on to my faith. I pray that I hold on to everything that brings me closer to you. I pray that I hold on to everything I’ve learned in college. I pray that I hold on to the friendships made and memories shared here. I pray that I hold on to the dreams we made. I pray that I keep moving forward even when I don’t know the direction. 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.

Here I am, stuck in the middle with You.

I have been catching up on last season of The Voice and decided to watch one episode before I went to bed. At the very end of the episode as Taylor John Williams was getting ready for his song, Qwen asked him what line he related to the most. He responded with “stuck in the middle with you” because when his parents went through a divorce and he spent most of his time with his grandmother. I immediately thought of the song differently. I don’t relate to his story specifically because my parents just celebrated the 30th anniversary of their first date. I do, however, relate to the line of the song that he did. Life is hard and messy sometimes. I get stuck in the middle and I can’t seem to fix any of it. Which is a huge problem for me because I am a fixer, it’s what I do. I evaluate all sides of the problem and then get to the root of it and fix it. I was just talking to my dad and my person about this the other day. I just want to make things better, but there isn’t anything I can do sometimes. This week is one of those times. I have no control over the situation. I’m not alone though. You’re here with me. No matter what I’m facing or what I’m going through.

Proverbs 29:11 says: A fool always loses his temper, But a wise man holds it back. Other translations say: Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back. Growing up in the South, we don’t hide our crazy, we put it on the front porch and display it for all the neighbors. Then the neighbors run and tell everybody down the block. I thought this type of stuff was just while we were in middle and high school and that at some point we were supposed to grow out of it. Truth is, we don’t. I realized in college, there is drama all the way from childhood to the very end. I’ve learned that I don’t have to participate though. I don’t have to listen to gossip. I don’t have to be actively involved in the mess. There are always going to be 15 sides to every story and there is never going to be a solution that makes everyone happy. There are always going to be people that make mountains out of mow-hills. There are always going to be people stirring the pot and riling things up. There are always going to be people pointing fingers and dodging the blame. There are always going to be people rooting for you to fail.

“Our reaction to a situation literally has the power to change the situation itself.” James 1:19 says: This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. I’ve seen people act out of anger a lot and I just don’t think it helps anything. It doesn’t fix the issue, it just adds to it. “A moment of patience in a moment of anger saves you a hundred moments of regret.” I’ve also seen people literally talk themselves into a brick wall. I’ve done it a couple of times myself. I’ve learned that the fastest answer isn’t always the right one. “Direction is so much more important than speed. Many are going nowhere fast.” There’s this quote that says: “The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” Ok, You’ve got me. I’m ready to listen.

So, this is my prayer today. I pray that I stop talking and start listening. I pray that I keep learning to slow down and follow your direction. I pray that I continue to work on my reaction. I pray that I keep coming to you. I pray that I give it all to you. Lord, I can’t handle this on my own. Where I am weak, you are strong. Where I am not enough, you are more than enough. Lord, I’m bringing it all to you. Lord, prepare my heart. I pray that you change me. I pray that you move me. I pray that you guide me. I pray that you direct me. Thank you for being with me through it 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.