Open my ears, I wanna hear You speak.

I want to curl up in my bed with my Bible until I can process this. I want to shut out all the noise and distractions and opinions. I just want You, God. I am starting to lose my mind. Wait, back up, that process has most definitely already started. I want my mind back…on You, God.

Before Church this morning, I wanted to hear some preaching before the preaching. I pulled up Steven Furtick again. This time he was talking about Joseph’s dreams again. He’s preached on the importance of telling your dreams to the right people before and how to protect your God-given dreams. This message picked up right there and carried on.

Steven said: “a dream will make you bold.” Well check. I got bold alright. I started doing my best to move mountains and shake up the Heavens. Then he talked about the dream we see in one part of our life will show up later in a different dimension. His second point was that: “a dream makes you different.” Check. Check. The last point was that: “a dream can become a distraction.” Well that is exactly where I am now. I am not sure if this is a test to see if I have what it takes to keep going or if You are giving me an out because this isn’t what You wanted or if this is where I learn how to handle things going forward.

Joseph had the courage to wear his father’s coat, knowing his brothers hated him. He shared his dream with them, knowing them would hate him even more. Maybe it was immature to share his dream with his brothers, knowing how they feel about him. Maybe it put too much pressure on the dream by telling people that hated him. Maybe the dream changed because of our own agendas. Maybe we lose all sight of the dream and make it all about us. But You can use even this mess for Your plan.

I don’t want to leave my coat hanging up in the closet. I want to follow You and when I do, dreams will follow. Steven preached the dreams followed Joseph into slavery, into prison, into the pit, into all of it. Then Steven said: “you’ve got the right dream, you just need to see it differently. What if your dream was just the first draft? Are you open to a revision?”

Then the preaching took the message home for me. Steven taught God develops dreams in the dark room. Your dream is developed by a professional. Do I have the patience to let it develop? Do I have the courage to hand You the negatives? Even in the darkest places of my disappointment.

Then today at Church of the Highlands, Pastor Chris got me all riled up for Easter. He preached on Freedom and how each of the things Jesus went through were promises fulfilled for us. The whip was freedom in my body. The crown of thorns was freedom in my mind. The nails were freedom in my hands, for everything I’ve ever done and every time I’ve gone too far. The last point he made was the spear was freedom in my heart. That’s when I started weeping. Because when they stabbed Jesus with the spear, He was already dead. His blood was mixed with water because of heart failure. It wasn’t the 39 stripes that killed Him. It wasn’t the crown of thorns pierced into Head. It wasn’t the nails stabbed into Him. It wasn’t the suffocation. It wasn’t even the spear in His side. It was heart failure. His heart was crushed.

And He did all of this while holding onto His peace. Through it all he went like a lamb headed to the slaughter. He went willingly and without persecuting His enemies. He could have stopped the whole thing at any time, but He didn’t. He was loyal to You, Your plan, and my salvation.

Even in my darkest places of disappointment. Even when I am heartbroken. I can still carry peace. I can still follow You. I can still extend grace. I can still find You. Steven preached: I’m in the center, but not for status, for service. The greatest thing You are going to do for my life is use it to contribute to others. He said: I don’t have to be the one singing the song, I just have to be a part of it. The dream isn’t about me. The end of 2 Chronicles 20:15 says: the battle is not yours, but God’s.

So, this is my prayer. I pray for peace. I pray I hold onto that peace. I pray I hold onto you. I pray I remember that I am not God. I pray I remember who you are. I pray I remember the whole point of the story. I am not the whole story, Father, you are. I pray you develop my dream. I pray I leave it to the professional. I pray I trust you with the negatives. Thank you for freedom in my body. Thank you for freedom in my mind. Thank you for freedom in my hands. Thank you for freedom in my heart. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for taking what was meant for me. Thank you for taking it while holding onto peace. Thank you for taking it like a lamb. Thank you for reminding me the whole purpose is service. Thank you for reminding I am not alone. The dream is not about me and what I want. I am sorry I try to make it about me. I am sorry I rush things. I am sorry I put my agenda before your plan. I am sorry I put pressure on the dream. I am sorry I let the dream become a distraction. 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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I was made by You, I was made for You.

I picked up two books at Lifeway a while ago. I just finished one and I’m halfway through the other. The first one I read is Praying Circles Around the Lives of Your Children by Mark Batterson. Now, while I don’t have children of my own, I work with teenagers and volunteer with kids. So, I figured I need to start praying for them more strategically. I should probs thank War Room, for the desire to make my prayers more intentional. In the book, I learned to pray without ceasing, with intensity, with tenacity, by design, by desire, by discipline, with specificity, with intentionality, and with consistency. That list motivates me. I like words and those are some pretty powerful words.

I heard someone say a while back that I cannot expect lost people to act saved. What I’m realizing now, after reading these books, is that people shouldn’t expect me to act lost and should expect me to act saved. I cannot require more than I am willing to give. I am saved. I came home. I have the immovable joy. I am forgiven. I am set free. I have the peace that cannot be taken. I need to act like it. It’s a call to action, in my every waking moment. At work, volunteering at church, with friends and family, in every waking moment I should be striving to love like You, Lord. The other book I’m reading is Having a Martha Home the Mary Way. In that book, Sarah Mae says: “I am clay, and clay cannot mold itself.” That sentence sent chills down my arms and legs. Since Your love got a hold of me, I am a new creation. 

I spend 8 plus hours at work each day and 3-4 at Church on Wednesdays and Sundays. That’s not even including prep-times, trips, or events. There are 24 hours in a day and I spend 8-12 with kids on any day. In my week, consisting of 168 hours, 50 is spent working and 6 is traveling to and from work. 3 1/2 are spent at Church Wednesdays and 4 1/2 on Sundays. More than half my day is spent with those kids, so they deserve my prayers. That still leaves me with 104 hours. Even if I slept a whole 8 hours a day which I don’t usually, that is still only 56 hours. I would have 48 hours a week just for me.

That is 48 hours a week I could be doing something productive. Some weeks those hours seem to slip away. I always heard the older I get, the faster time flies and I am definitely beginning to see that. I don’t even know what happened to January, I blinked and I’m 8 days deep into February. I used to think that self-esteem depended on me and my worth. After reading these books and working with these kids, I see that confidence is found in my relationship with You. Because no one can worship You like me. No one can pray like me. No one can do what I do, how I do it. I am unique. I do not worship the same as anyone else. That is not to toot my own horn, that is a gift I was given by You, for You. My identify, my confidence, my value comes from my relationship with You. No one can satisfy my heart and make me whole except You, God.

Sarah Mae’s book is certainly cleaning my house, but more importantly it is cleaning my heart. In her book, she gave us her mission statement and told us to adapt it and make our own. I figured, since I am a new creation in You, Lord, that a mission statement was a perfect thing to have especially when I am trying to live more intentionally. Ok, so here goes:

  1. I need a safe, sanitary, healthy, peaceable environment for my family. I need a home made with gentle kindness.
  2. I want to love myself and others well. I want to love like Jesus does.
  3. I am becoming like Jesus. I am choosing life over death, goodness over evil, and light over dark.
  4. I will be a life-giver. I will raise life above the level of mere existence through service.
  5. I live out my relationship with God. I live out who God is in me.

Proverbs 14:1 says: A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hand. That is why this mission statement is so important because I am a self-sabotager. I let my emotions and feelings control me, instead of realizing that I am made by You, for You. I don’t have to live this way. I am a new creation. I am born again. That old way of thinking is dead and gone. I can change my thought process.

So, here is my prayer today. Thank you Lord, for using these books to open my eyes and change my way of thinking. Lord, thank you for putting these books in my life and allowing me to apply them to my life. Thank you for words, lists, and mission statements. I pray that I pray for those kids without ceasing, with intensity, with tenacity, by design, by desire, by discipline, with specificity, with intentionality, and with consistency. Thank you for calling me home. Thank you for making me new. Thank you for writing my name in the book. Thank you for peace, freedom, joy, and so much more. Thank you for molding me. Thank you for your love that has a hold on me. I pray you keep holding me. Thank you for making me whole. Thank you for making my worship, my prayers, my gifts unique. Thank you for giving me purpose, identity, confidence, and value. Thank you for wanting a relationship with me. I pray that I take every single word of that mission statement and apply to my life until it is an undeniable truth. I pray that mission statement becomes my reality. I pray that I remember Proverbs 14:1 and use it to build my home on your solid foundation. Lord, thank you for using these books to impact my thoughts and my heart. 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.